8 Players Minnesota Vikings Shouldn't Bring Back in 2014-15
Well, we all know where the Minnesota Vikings are headed in 2013: for a top-five draft pick in 2014.
And with that mission at hand, the organization already has its eye on the 2014 season.
At this point, all players are playing solely for their 2014 livelihood.
The 2013 Vikings are bottom feeders. The 2014 Vikings ... well, that story will be written in time.
And there will absolutely be changes made before 2014 begins. Those changes should start with these eight players.
These eight players could be on this list due to poor play, salary demands, positional depth or any other reason specified on their slide.
Some are free agents and don't yet have a contract for 2014. Some are under contract for next season and would have to be released for their ties to the organization to be severed.
The players are listed in no particular order.
Look forward to your thoughts.
Linebacker Desmond Bishop
As Minnesota's color scheme suggests, the grass hasn't been greener for Desmond Bishop since the former Packer signed with the Vikings.
Injuries have been a consistent nuisance for Bishop; a torn right hamstring ended his 2012 campaign and Packers career, and that has been the case in his first (and potentially last) season in Minnesota.
A groin injury limited him in training camp and, in part, dropped him into the second defensive unit.
Given the opportunity to start, that lasted 16 days before a torn ACL ended his 2013 campaign.
Bishop, 29 years old, is no spring chicken who doesn't fit in well in Minnesota; he should be at middle, not outside linebacker, but the Vikings are big on Erin Henderson.
When 2014 begins, it will have been three seasons since he posted 100 or more tackles. He's not the sideline-to-sideline player the Packers enjoyed.
Minnesota, as previously mentioned, is heading for a rebuilding year in 2014, barring surprising quarterback play or another out-of-this-world season from Adrian Peterson.
Bishop will turn 30 just before training camp, and as a player on a one-year deal with no real history with the organization, it should be easy to cut ties with him.
When asked about his future in Minnesota, Bishop told the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "I'm not sure. I haven't thought that far ahead."
Cornerback Chris Cook
This was a make-or-break season for Chris Cook.
The 2010 second-round pick has battled injuries and off-the-field distractions throughout his four-year career.
He has never played a full season, maxing out at 10 games last season because of a broken arm, and he hasn't been a stand-up citizen; he combated domestic assault charges in 2011, which caused him to miss 10 games.
With all that behind him and the possibility of a healthy 2013, Cook was supposed to take a step toward stardom.
But that hasn't happened.
Cook still has as many interceptions in the NFL as you do, and he's gotten beat as often as anyone in the secondary not named Josh Robinson.
Cook hasn't stepped up as a leader nor has he established himself as the shutdown cornerback Minnesota thought it drafted.
The 6'2", 212-pound Cook is a free agent at season's end, which makes it all the easier to part ways with him.
But if Cook is willing to accept an affordable base contract with plenty of incentives, then Minnesota should consider retaining him.
It's not as if Minnesota's loaded with talented cornerbacks.
Defensive End Jared Allen
The calf-roping days in Minnesota will be over soon.
Barring the unforeseen, Jared Allen won't be a Viking in 2014.
The writing is on the wall.
Minnesota inked fellow defensive end Brian Robison to a new four-year deal in October and has already had discussions with Everson Griffen about a new deal.
Allen told ESPN.com he isn't worried about that, but he should be. At least, if staying in Minnesota is his goal.
Robison, 30, and Griffen, 25, are younger than Allen, 31, and cheaper (Allen is making just $17 million this season).
For that $17 million, Minnesota has gotten 4.5 sacks, 22 tackles and a forced fumble, which puts him on pace for nine sacks, 44 tackles and two forced fumbles. All of those stats, outside of forced fumbles, would be Minnesota lows for the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end.
As mentioned previously, Minnesota is entering a rebuilding period (barring the unforeseen).
Allen likely wouldn't want to be part of that nor will Minnesota want to pay him to be.
Now, if contract talks fall through with Griffen, then Minnesota may want to reconsider (depending on Allen's asking price).
But as things stand, it makes more sense for these two parties to part ways.
Left Guard Charlie Johnson
The 2012 version of left guard Charlie Johnson was serviceable. Not great, but OK.
The 2013 version is forgettable and need of a change.
Johnson is one of Minnesota's main offensive linemen undergoing a regressive campaign.
He's not the worst, but he's not something Minnesota should be proud of, either. He hasn't ever been part of Minnesota's long-term plan on the offensive line but has been seen as more of a stopgap measure.
The 29-year-old Johnson is an unrestricted free agent at season's end, which makes the move all the easier.
Right Guard Brandon Fusco
It's been a reoccurring theme for the Vikings in 2013.
Whoever is under center drops back to pass only to be flogged by defenders coming from his right side.
Then, as the quarterback resurfaces, there is Phil Loadholt or Brandon Fusco standing over him.
It's a painful trend, especially for the quarterback.
Fusco was a sixth-round pick in 2011 who was more of a fill-in than anything else at right guard last season. Because he wasn't a complete waste of time there last season, he earned the opportunity to start there this season.
But it's clear he's not a guard a championship-caliber team would start.
The Vikings have him under contract for 2014, at $668,556. So, it's not as if he will be cut. But he should, at the very least, be replaced as a starter next season.
Wide Receiver Jerome Simpson
One year into his Minnesota career, Jerome Simpson was a complete bust.
He caught 26 passes for 274 yards and zero touchdowns in 12 games.
The former Cincinnati Bengal missed the first three games for breaking the NFL's substance abuse policy and missed another with a right leg injury.
Half a season there, nothing's changed.
Simpson's stats this season are better, 29 receptions for 446 yards and zero touchdowns, but the label is still the same: Bust.
Minnesota signed the 27-year-old to another one-year deal in the offseason for $2.1 million.
Unless he's willing to take another pay cut, Simpson is done.
With Cordarrelle Patterson as the split end of the future, Minnesota will have no need for Simpson and his disappointment in 2014.
Defensive Tackle Kevin Williams
It started with the departure of Pat Williams and has hit an all-time low this season.
Kevin Williams' decline has been a slow and steady race that has finally hit its bottom.
Williams, a five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, is on pace for roughly 21 tackles, zero sacks and, surprisingly, two interceptions.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy, at 33 years old, is in the last year of what was originally an eight-year, $45.7-million deal.
That, combined with regressive play and the presence of 2013 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd, should lead to an easy split between the two parties.
It was a good run, and it will be interesting to see if any teams call upon the 11-year pro.
Quarterback Matt Cassel
Matt Cassel was brought in this past offseason for one reason: insurance to Christian Ponder.
He was likely promised dibs on the starting gig should Ponder falter. But after getting mixed results from Cassel as the starter and the franchise building for the future, it's clear that Cassel won't be in the mix for the starting job in 2014.
The two or three men who will have that opportunity are Ponder, Josh Freeman (if he's re-signed) and whatever quarterback Minnesota selects in the 2014 draft.
Cassel, the only quarterback to win for Minnesota, made it clear he wasn't happy when he was benched after his 32-of-44 effort for 241 yards, two interceptions and a touchdown in a 35-10 loss to Carolina.
“Unfortunately, I don’t make the decisions,” Cassel told Reuters Media. “Coach (Leslie) Frazier and whoever is making the decisions have decided to go this direction. As a player, you might not always agree with it, but you accept it and move forward and continue to work hard. You have a choice. Any time adversity comes our way as players, we can feel sorry for ourselves and become a distraction. Or you can continue to work, be professional and do what you’re paid to do. That’s my choice.”
Cassel, 31 years old, still has to think he has what it takes to start. And he won't get that opportunity in Minnesota in 2014.
There will likely be some team out there with a shaky quarterback situation that Cassel would think he could start for. And that's an opportunity he'd like to seek out and Minnesota should let him.
Cassel is under contract for 2014 after signing a two-year, $7.4-million contract this past offseason. But that shouldn't stop either party.