Sanford and Evans are Big Name Veterans Among Final Roster Cuts
Image courtesy of Trevor Ruszkowski, USA Today Sports“It's really hard because every one of these guys has done everything we've asked them to do," head coach Mike Zimmer told the Pioneer Press. "Coming in as a new organization, part of the way we've done things has been such a change, so I have a fondness in my heart for all of these guys. I think they've gotten better each week, and this [last cut] is probably particularly hard."
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the release of defensive tackle Fred Evans, who spent eight of his nine NFL seasons with the Vikings. In addition, five-year veteran safety Jamarca Sanford, who injured his quadriceps in the third preseason game, has been placed on the short term IR–meaning when he returns, he is a free agent able to negotiate with any team other than Minnesota.
The Vikings also let veteran safety Chris Crocker go after bringing him in during training camp to help tutor the younger players. At the time, it appeared he could even start, given his familiarity with Zimmer’s defense, but the Vikings are headed in a much younger direction.
Here is a list of the players that were cut and a look at how the 53-man roster shapes up.
Players Let Go
RB Joe Banyard
RB Dominique Williams
WR Kain Colter
WR Donte Foster
TE Allen Reisner
TE Chase Ford
OL Jeff Baca
OL Zac Kerin
OL Mike Remmers
OL Antonio Richardson (placed on IR)
DT Fred Evans
DL Chase Baker
DL Isame Faciane
DL Justin Trattou
LB Justin Jackson
LB Mike Zimmer
S Kurt Coleman
S Jamarca Sanford (placed on the short term IR)
CB Julian Posey
CB Kendall James
CB Chris Crocker
Minnesota Vikings 53-man roster
Quarterback: Matt Cassel, Teddy Bridgewater, Christian Ponder
Analysis: No surprises here. Ponder stays for depth and possible future trade bait.
Running back: Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata, Jerick McKinnon, Jerome Felton (FB), Zach Line (FB)
Analysis: Arguably the deepest unit on the team, there had been quite a battle going on for roster spots behind Peterson. It must have been a tough decision to cut Joe Banyard, who lead the team in rushing during the preseason, but the Vikings have back-filled (pun intended) the position well in the wake of Toby Gerhart leaving. The team is keeping two fullbacks, Felton and Line, which is a bit of a surprise.
Wide Receiver: Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, Adam Thielen, Rodney Smith
Analysis: The wide receivers unit is a deeper group than in the past, and Jerome Simpson’s suspension opened up a chance for younger receivers such as Smith to make a mark. When Simpson is able to return after three games, a roster move will have to be made to add him. Detroit Lakes native and former MSU Mankato Maverick Thielen made too many plays in the preseason to miss the squad, and the fan-favorite will be fun to watch this season.
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph, Rhett Ellison
Analysis: In a tight battle for Rudolph’s backup, Ellison took on all comers and won. He beat out Reisner, despite a solid preseason in which Reisner lead the team with three touchdowns, and Ford who missed most of the preseason with a broken foot. The Vikings like Ellison’s blocking ability.
Offensive Line: Matt Kalil (LT), Charlie Johnson (LG), John Sullivan (Center), Brandon Fusco (RG), Phil Loadholt (RT), and reserves Joe Berger, David Yankey, Austin Wentworth, Vlad Ducasse
Analysis: Zimmer had been high on the returning five starters for the offensive line and likes the continuity that brings. Injuries occur often on the line, so the team has kept backups who have a good combination of experience, versatility and youth. Antonio Richardson is headed to the IR—he has knee inflammation from loose bodies and chondral lesions found after Titans game. A surgery date will be determined.
Safety: Harrison Smith, Robert Blanton, Andrew Sendejo, Antone Exum
Analysis: It took a long time for the coaching staff to make up their minds on this unit, so expect some fluidity throughout the season. The team could be searching the waiver wire for other possibilities. If someone is not doing the job, you can bet another player will get pulled into active duty--although Sanford won’t be one of them. He was placed on the short term IR, meaning when he is healthy he must be released and will be allowed to negotiate with any team except the Vikings.
Cornerback: Captain Munnerlyn, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Shaun Prater, Jabari Price, Marcus Sherels
Analysis: This unit is an upgrade from last season, but we don’t get the sense that Zimmer is exactly sold on it. Expect some rotation volatility depending on how they perform, and always factor in injuries in this unit, as Robinson has already spent time on the injured list this season. Zimmer also mentioned that he wouldn’t be averse to giving Prater a shot at safety, which could shore up a safety unit with only four members.
Linebacker: Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Anthony Barr, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, Mike Mauti, Bandon Watts, Larry Dean
Analysis: Zimmer has been inching toward naming Brinkley his starting middle linebacker, and if so Brinkley will be flanked by Barr and Greenway. The unit is not particularly deep, so no one should relax. The Vikings kept eight linebackers but could be searching the waiver wire for more depth at this position.
Defensive Line: Brian Robison (DE), Everson Griffen (DE), Sharrif Floyd (UT), Linval Joseph (NT), and reserves Tom Johnson, Shamar Stephen, Corey Wootten, Scott Crichton
Analysis: The loss of 30-year-old Fred Evans means the Vikings are valuing youth over experience. Evans has been a backup on the defensive line for eight seasons and is considered a clubhouse leader, but the team is getting much younger with the signing of Joseph and the play of Stephen.
Specialists: Blair Walsh (PK), Jeff Locke (P), Cullen Loeffler (LS)
Analysis: No competition; no cuts; no surprises.