Hutchinson wasn't surprised by Vikings exit
OCT 03, 2012 7:09p ET
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Guard Steve Hutchinson said he, "saw the writing on the wall" as the Minnesota Vikings entered last offseason looking to get younger and that he wasn’t surprised by his release a few days before free agency started in March.
Hutchinson, the 12-year veteran who spent six years with the Vikings, ended up signing a three-year, $16 million contract with the Tennessee Titans, who come to Minnesota this weekend.
"I didn't have an option, so I got a call and they told me the decision they were going," Hutchinson said Wednesday on a conference call with Minnesota media. "I wasn't completely blindsided. Just knowing the direction that the team was going; they were trying to get younger. I kind of saw the writing on the wall, so to speak. It was a fun run. It was a good six years. But, it's a business, too, and they've got to do what they’'ve got to do."
Hutchinson, 34, was a part of a purge of several veteran players in the offseason, following a six-year run with the Vikings in which he was named a Pro Bowler four times and an All-Pro three times. The Vikings signed him to a lucrative seven-year, $49 million deal in 2006, which included wording designed to make it nearly impossible for the Seattle Seahawks, who had chosen Hutchinson with the 17th pick in the 2001 draft, to match. The infamous "poison pill" contract offered by Minnesota caused some outrage throughout the league and led to a retaliation of sorts by Seattle years later with receiver Nate Burleson.
Hutchinson said it would feel strange walking into the Metrodome on the other side, but it’s not the first time he’s felt such a feeling.
"I was just kind of thinking how weird it is to go back," Hutchinson said. "I remember when I went back to Seattle in 2006 and basically playing against all the guys you’ve been in the locker room with for however many years. Yeah, I’ve been over there. I kind of remember a little bit about what that visiting locker room looks like, so I won’t be completely lost."
Hutchinson’s release came with him due $6.95 million in the final year of his contract with the Vikings. He said he had thought about retirement if he would have played out the rest of his contract, which would have put him at 12 years. But after being cut, he wanted to continue on and reach the 12-year mark.
"That sounded like a good number to me, a dozen years," Hutchinson said. "So, I don’t know if I felt comfortable hanging it up after 11. You get that number in your head. I don’t know what this contract will take me to realistically, but three-year deal, I don’t know if all three years will come into play. But it wasn’t much of a hard choice to figure out if I wanted to keep playing because I just wanted to honor that 12-year mark I had in my head, at least."
Hutchinson said the toughest part was making a move with his kids and he still maintains a residence in the Twin Cities. He said he has "no complaints" physically and isn’t surprised by the success Minnesota has had this season.
"No, I’m not surprised with all," Hutchinson said. "I know the character of the guys in that locker room, the leaders they have on the team. I don’t think there was a doubt that Christian was going to be a great player for that team. I think last year with the new offensive system and the lockout and the no offseason and asking a rookie to come in and grasp every aspect of the game at the quarterback position at the NFL level was hard to do. I knew once he settled in, he’d be good. So, they’re doing well. They’re looking good, and I’m sure the fans are happy and they deserve that."
Locker ruled out Sunday: Tennessee’s second-year starting quarterback Jake Locker was officially ruled out for Sunday’s game with a separated left, non-throwing shoulder. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck, in his 14th NFL season, will start Sunday for the Titans.
Tennessee coach Mike Munchak said he would give Locker a couple of days to see if the soreness would allow him to play Sunday when he talked with Minnesota media during a conference call, but he must have had a change of heart with his young quarterback, declaring Locker out to Titans media later in the afternoon Wednesday.
Locker suffered a dislocated left shoulder for the second time this season in last week’s 38-14 loss to the Houston Texans, when he was sacked by cornerback Glover Quinn. It was a reoccurrence of the injury he sustained while making a tackle in the season opener. Locker returned to play in Week 2 after the first injury, but reports have speculated this time he might be forced to miss several weeks. An MRI showed no structural damage, and Munchak said he isn’t ruling Locker out past this week.
Allen, Jenkins miss practice: Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a groin injury, as was wide receiver Michael Jenkins with the rib contusion he sustained in last Sunday’s game.
Coach Leslie Frazier said he’s hopeful neither player will have to miss Sunday’s game. Safety Andrew Sendejo missed Wednesday’s practice with a lingering ankle injury, as did safety Mistral Raymond, who is out two to four more weeks. Frazier said Sendejo could miss Sunday’s game.
Linebacker Erin Henderson was cleared to participate in part of practice as he tries to return from a concussion.
"They’ve cleared him to the point where he can go through parts of our practice and then they’ll evaluate again tomorrow after he’s done some of the things he’ll do today," Frazier said, later adding: "Not certain as to why it’s taken this much time. As you know, you’re going to err on the side of caution when it comes to a head injury. So, that’s what we’re doing. That’s what our doctors are doing."
Henderson complained of the concussion symptoms two days after Minnesota’s Week 2 loss at Indianapolis, a game in which he had to leave for a few plays because of an injury. Frazier said he’s hopeful Henderson will be back in time to play Sunday but wasn’t making any promises.
"I was hoping the same thing a week ago," Frazier said. "So, hoping that he’ll be able to practice tomorrow, they’ll clear him and say, 'Hey, you can do everything.' The fact that it’s to the point where he can participate some today, that’s a good sign."
Quarterback Christian Ponder was listed on the injury report with a knee injury and practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. Frazier didn’t meet with the media following practice. Guard Charlie Johnson (low back), cornerback Antoine Winfield (knee) and cornerback/returner Marcus Sherels (quadriceps) were also limited during Wednesday’s practice.
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