Ray Edwards has been a three-year starter on the best defensive line in the NFL. He's improved every season and had appeared to be on the brink of a breakout season. At only 25 years old, he's got 10 years of football left in him.
In 2009, Edwards had 8.5 sacks, 51 tackles, and a forced fumble. All the signs are pointing to a decent sized contract.
But as a devoted fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I'm pleading that they let the guy walk.
He's got the biggest mouth on the team and is a hot-head. He's constantly getting into a battle of words with opposing players and can't keep composed in games.
In recent interviews with the starting defensive end, he has made no effort to indicate that he wants to come back. It seems he wants to be the star of the defense and when guys like Chad Greenway, Jared Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Antoine Winfield are stealing your thunder, you have to get out, right?
The guy is a lone-duck on a star-studded defensive front. Us Vikings fans are still waiting for him to break future Hall of Famer Micheal Stahan's single season sack total that he vowed to do before the start of the 2008 season.
Also, recently, Edwards questioned NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's contract status, saying, "I don't see him out there getting hit or nothing like that. The commissioner makes $9 million, so you tell me where the balance is?"
Maybe I'm looking too far into the statement, but it seems to me that Edwards expects a hefty contract. Edwards is a restricted free agent this offseason and the Vikings could offer him a tender sheet of approximately $3.41 million.
Instead of giving the guy the money that he may or may not deserve, invest the money somewhere else and let backup Brian Robison assume the position that he should have had out of training camp.
Before the season started, I wrote an article saying how Robison should start over Edwards. Even after a career performance in the NFC Divisional game with the Dallas Cowboys, I still stand by the statement.
In limited duty, Robison has performed superior to Edwards. Robison's appearances in games are few and far between. However, he has still managed to put up decent sack numbers. As a matter of fact, Robison had 4.5 sacks despite not playing in over 75 percent of possible downs.
Not only does Robison line up on defensive end, but he has played beside Kevin Williams at defensive tackle in special situations. The guy can do it all.
Robison plays hard every down and is a little more level-headed than Edwards. He doesn't run his mouth and doesn't cause stupid penalties. If you can't tell, I'm not a big Edwards fan and am not convinced that he will be a dominant defensive end.
He's not going to make a lot of money next season and could be a huge bargain for the Vikings. Let Edwards go and have some other team take a risk on him. He won't have a Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Jared Allen to take double teams away from him.
If Edwards thinks he is a one-man wrecking crew, he's got another thing coming in 2010.
If the Vikings don't feel that Robison has done enough to earn a starting spot in 2010, there's always the possibility of another former Green Bay Packer to join the Vikings out of revenge.
Aaron Kampman would be a great fit, but would likely command a large salary proportional to the one that Edwards thinks he's going to get.
Kampman struggled a little in the transition to the 3-4 defense. He doesn't have the speed or coverage skills necessary and with a loaded linebacking corps, Kampman could find himself out of Green Bay.
Does anyone else notice the trend of Green Bay players leaving them and joining one of their most hated rivals? Maybe it has something to do with the way the organization is being run, but that's another story.
So, who will start at right defensive end for the Vikings? Whoever it is is going to have the luxury of being on one of the most legendary defensive lines in the history of the NFL.