EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — When the Minnesota Vikings drafted UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round of Saturday’s NFL draft, many people expected Minnesota to cut one of its other punters.
The first cut wasn’t the expected name.
The Vikings released T.J. Conley on Monday, one of three punters on the roster along with veteran Chris Kluwe after the team drafted Locke. Conley, 27, was signed earlier in the offseason, expected to provide competition the incumbent Kluwe. Conley’s punted one year in the NFL, averaging 42.7 yards-per-kick for the New York Jets in 2011.
Kluwe’s status still remains unknown. Statistically the top punter in team history in his eight years with Minnesota, Kluwe could end up being replaced by Locke. Kluwe has received as much notoriety for his public activism as his punting. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman maintained that Kluwe will be given a chance to compete for the punting job and the drafting of Locke wasn’t because of Kluwe’s outspoken nature.