5 Minnesota Vikings Who Will Don Purple and Gold for the Last Time vs. Detroit
Sunday signals the end.
The end of the losing 2013 campaign.
The end of the Metrodome.
The end of the careers of many Minnesota Vikings.
With the opportunity to secure five wins at most, the Vikings are a franchise finishing up an awful season and heading in the wrong direction.
There is a need for a franchise quarterback and likely a franchise coach.
With uncertainty at the two most important positions, one can expect plenty of other changes to occur, too.
Minnesota is likely in for a rebuilding 2014 campaign, which will make it much easier for the organization to part with some of its older or more expensive players this upcoming offseason.
Inside this slideshow is a list of five players the organization is likely to part ways with, for various reasons.
The players are listed in no particular order.
DE Jared Allen
Jared Allen recently told Fox Sports North he isn't closing the door on a return to Minnesota.
However, an Associated Press report published on SI.com sports a headline that reads, "Allen, others likely face last game with Vikings."
Which story should you believe?
Allen turns 32 in April. He is making $14.28 million and absolutely hasn't earned his pay in 2013.
The pending free agent has recorded 9.5 sacks and 48 tackles through 15 games, which puts him on pace for roughly 10 sacks and 51 tackles. That would be the lowest sackt and third-lowest total number of tackles in his Vikings career.
In addition to Allen's projected decline and relatively high expected salary demands, Minnesota also has to consider the other options it has at the defensive end position.
Yes, the unexpected could happen, but it is unexpected for a reason.
The hog tying should end in Minnesota against the Lions on Sunday.
DT Kevin Williams
Kevin Williams will go down as one of the great defensive tackles in the organization's history.
A six-time Pro Bowl player and five-time first-team All-Pro honoree, no one doubts Williams' career credentials.
It's in the present and immediate future where there are real doubts.
Statistically, Williams will finish up one of his worst seasons on Sunday (27 tackles, 2.5 sacks in 14 games).
At 33 years old (he turns 34 in August), as a pending free agent and with 2013 first-round pick Sharrif Floyd waiting in the wings, it's very easy for Minnesota to sever ties with the former Oklahoma State Cowboy.
As a first-round pick, Floyd needs the opportunity to play consistently in 2014 and it's questionable as to whether Williams would be willing to return to Minnesota with a reduced role and salary (he made $5 million in 2013).
His stats are on the decline, but his leadership is still strong. It just isn't worth the money and role he'd like to have on the team.
LG Charlie Johnson
The offensive line was a major factor in the 1-7 start to Minnesota's 2013 campaign.
The Vikings allowed 20 sacks during that stretch (2.5 sacks per game, which equates to 40 over the course of a 16-game season) and rushed for 111 yards or fewer in four of them.
With a player like Adrian Peterson, who averages 98.2 yards per game by himself over his career, that shouldn't happen.
At the heart of that struggle on the offensive line has been the play of Charlie Johnson, who hasn't been a standout left guard with Minnesota since his move there in 2012.
Johnson, who's 29 and will turn 30 on May 2, isn't under contract beyond this season, which makes it an easy decision for the organization and him to part ways.
This is a position Minnesota ought to address early in the 2014 NFL draft. The tackle and center positions are locked up for the immediate future (Phil Loadholt had a forgettable 2013, but with the contract he just signed, the organization is hitched to him for the time being) but neither guard has a solidified future.
Allowing Johnson to walk and investing in a guard early in the draft would change that.
QB Josh Freeman
It has been one of the strangest things to watch unfold.
The Vikings brought in Josh Freeman midway through the 2013 season and paid him $2 million. However, they only offered him one start, which was just two weeks after he was signed.
His performance against the New York Giants was disastrous (20-of-53 for 190 yards, no touchdowns and one interception), but it was on short notice with limited time to get comfortable in the offense and with his teammates.
In any case, given how little Minnesota has had to play for at 4-10-1, it's surprising he never got a second start.
Given that fact, it's unlikely Freeman will stick around in Minnesota to seek a second career start in purple and gold, just as it's unlikely Minnesota will attempt to retain his services beyond this season.
It just won't be in Minnesota.
RB Toby Gerhart
NFL players sign contracts because they want an opportunity to showcase their talents.
Well, that really hasn't existed for Toby Gerhart in Minnesota.
And it's tough to see extensive playing time when you're the backup to Adrian Peterson, the NFL's top tailback.
Gerhart, 26, was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft and likely wants to have his day in the sun in some team's backfield.
And some team will present him with that sunshine.
It's tough for anyone to be successful when they play as sparingly as Gerhart has, but the former Stanford Cardinal has had his shining moments when given the opportunity.
Look at the Baltimore game this season.
With Peterson out, Gerhart rushed 15 times for 89 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and a touchdown.
In a limited role, he rushed eight times for 91 yards against the Green Bay Packers in Week 13.
Gerhart is a power back who has averaged 4.7 yards per carry in his four-year career. He has 77 receptions for 600 yards and three touchdowns, too.
He wants his shot in the sun, and he'll get it once he's outside of Peterson's shadow.