Before training camp is in the books, the Minnesota Vikings will have to make some tough decisions that could include showing some veterans the door.
By the looks of it, this could be a huge 2017 campaign for the Minnesota Vikings. After flashing contender potential last year, the team is hoping it can smooth out some issues (mainly along the offensive line) and get itself back on track.
The work general manager Rick Spielman and Co. have done this offseason is a good start. They added some key contributors during free agency, and landed a few high-upside youngsters during the 2017 NFL Draft. The Minnesota roster is coming along nicely, but we all know the time will come when some difficult decisions will need to be made.
That’s why we’re here today. It’s time to start talking about some notable names who may not be around when the 53-man roster is set in September. Training camp will be an opportunity for the Vikings to weed out some of the weak links, at which point several veterans could be handed their walking papers as incoming talent pushes them out of their current roles.
So who could these unlucky veterans be? Let’s take a look at five Vikings veterans who I believe won’t survive training camp. For one reason or another, these players will soon find themselves searching for another opportunity in another NFL city.
When the Vikings originally signed Bishop Sankey to a reserve/future deal in January, it looked like a low-risk, high-upside move. They needed help in the backfield, and the former second-round pick has shown some intrigue in his first three NFL campaigns.
Then Minnesota essentially fixed its backfield this offseason, signing Latavius Murray and bringing aboard Dalvin Cook via the draft. The two should immediately team together to form a solid one-two punch in the ground game. With Jerick McKinnon likely to serve in the change-of-pace role, there’s only so much room left on the roster for running backs.
The only way Sankey would make the roster is if the Vikings decided they had an extra spot with no true fullback available. They allowed Zach Line to walk this offseason, although he remains unsigned which means a reunion could still be possible. If he doesn’t re-sign, though, Minnesota could decide to keep four running backs.
Still, it seems unlikely Sankey sticks around. Although I personally was a fan of him coming out of college, he’s flopped in the NFL and has already been on four different teams, including three since the start of the 2016 campaign. It’s looking like his time with the Vikings won’t last long either.
It’s been a fun ride for Zac Kerin, a former undrafted free agent who managed to stick around in Minnesota for a few years. Unfortunately, after the offensive line overhaul the Vikings underwent this offseason, it seems far less likely he’ll continue his stay.
Last season, Kerin finally got his first real taste of significant NFL action. Although he only saw 118 snaps, he was counted on by the Vikings as the season wore down and injuries pilled up. When he did see the field, though, it was a mixed bag in terms of his overall effectiveness.
Although he brings some experience to the table, odds are long he extends his stay in the Twin Cities in 2017. The Vikings went out and drafted two guards at the end of April, giving Kerin significant competition for one of only a few backup jobs along the front five. Between Willie Beavers, Austin Shephard, Pat Elflein and Danny Isidora, it’s going to be a hard-fought battle.
In the end, I believe Kerin falls short. Although he’s got the strength to hold up as an interior blocker, his lack of athleticism hurts him as a pass protector. The Vikings will be looking to trim the players who can’t keep the pass rush under wraps, which means Kerin’s days in Minnesota are numbered.
When Emmanuel Lamur was signed last offseason, he seemed like a solid get for the Vikings. Considering his ties with Mike Zimmer from their time together in Cincinnati, it looked like he’d immediately step in as a reliable contributor on defense.
Well, that didn’t quite happen. Instead, Lamur rarely saw the field in 2016, with Chad Greenway taking most of the snaps at weakside linebacker. Now heading into Year 2 in the Twin Cities, Lamur must step up or risk losing his roster spot. If I had to guess, I’d say the latter ends up becoming the case this season for the former Bengal.
Why? Because Lamur is going to face significant competition for that final starting job. Kentrell Brothers is heading into his second NFL season, and showed promising signs as a rookie. The Vikings also went out and added rookies Ben Gedeon and Elijah Lee during the 2017 NFL Draft. Both could push for snaps at some point this season — especially the underrated Lee.
In the end, the final decision will come down to money. Lamur is currently playing on a non-guaranteed deal. The Vikings can show him the door without creating any dead cap, meaning it would be a financially savvy move. Assuming one of the youngsters emerges as a starting-caliber talent, Lamur will get the ax before Week 1 arrives.
As the Vikings have continued to add talent at wide receiver over the years, Jarius Wright continues to become less and less relevant. Chances are his irrelevance hits its peak this offseason, leading to his departure from Minnesota.
Overall, it’s been a good run for the former fourth-round pick out of Arkansas. He’s held his own as a quality depth piece for the Vikings. Unfortunately, it’s getting to the point where Wright is no longer earning significant snaps or targets. The emergence of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen certainly hasn’t helped his cause.
Then there’s the presence of Laquon Treadwell, who Minnesota is hoping will get his act together as a sophomore. Add in the fact that the Vikings drafted two receivers and just signed Michael Floyd, and it’s looking like there won’t be room on the roster for someone like Wright.
It’s been a great run for Wright, who’s put together some solid campaigns and a few huge games. As we know, though, all good things must come to an end. It appears his time is up in the Twin Cities, at least based on the current options available at wide receiver. Then again, he’s stuck around for five years — maybe he’ll make it one more.
One of the great underdog stories in the NFL, Marcus Sherels has gone from longshot to consistent contributor for the Vikings. It all started with a local prospect tryout that turned into seven seasons of productivity.
Unfortunately, it’s about to come to an end for Sherels. It’s not going to make any Minnesota fans happy, but the NFL is a business and this is strictly a business decision.
Right now, the Vikings are pretty much loaded at cornerback. Their two starters, Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman, are some of the better cover men in the league. The Minnesota secondary also boasts two outstanding youngsters in Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. There are other intriguing options behind them on the depth chart as well.
So where does Sherels fit into the equation? Unfortunately, he doesn’t. In the past, he’s managed to stick around due to his value as a return man. However, with the drafting of Rodney Adams, the Vikings appear to have found their new go-to guy in the return game.
Sherels is set to make $2 million in 2017, but letting him go would incur zero dead cap space. That makes the move a little easier on a Vikings team that will certainly have a tough time giving the Minnesota native the ax. Unfortunately, they can’t all make the 53-man roster.