Ben Leber and 5 Other Minnesota Vikings Who May Be on Their Way Out
As the Vikings have now entered a rebuilding stage, a lot must be taken to heart. Certain players who may still have value in the NFL may be let go if their contracts have come to term.
The Vikings have several players who are of great quality and may opt out of Minnesota as new head coach Leslie Frazier tries rebuild with youth rather than "plug and play" veterans.
Although there are several Vikings players who have a great chance of being re-signed this offseason, including the likes of Chad Greenway and Sidney Rice, some won't. It's nothing to do with money, but everything to do with Frazier building this team to win the right way and not necessarily right away.
Some players won't be worth building with from the bottom on up, whether it's due to the direction of the team or that they're seeking multi-year deals in their early to mid 30s...
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Robison has proven over the past couple seasons to be nothing short of a solid backup to spell Ray Edwards at defensive end. However, his success leaves him poised to either compete with last year's athletic rookie Everson Griffen or to take a shot at free agency.
Based on what's been said (and that isn't a lot), Robison has been pretty professional and stern about the topic of upcoming free agency. It probably wouldn't faze him to leave and test the waters, and with the Vikings rebuilding, he'd be either doomed to career backup status in Minnesota or a shot elsewhere.
It's true he could compete for the job in Minnesota, but considering the Vikings are rebuilding the team with youth, it's hard to see them letting an athletic player like Griffen sit on the bench and sub in unless Robison proves to be the better player...and you never can tell.
The Vikings may keep Robison as a veteran force to push the young Griffen. At this point, it looks a bit grey.
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Due $2.65 million in 2011 as his base salary plus incentives, Anthony Herrera is a question mark in 2011. His veteran presence may be needed, but the Vikings may decide to go another route if it comes to building with young guys.
Recovering from reconstructive knee surgery this season and being part of an aging and faltering line may contribute to him being let go so they can build up rather than keeping him.
Bear in mind, Steve Hutchinson is also at risk of a similar fate, being due $7 million in 2011. However, his talent is still serviceable and comes with a veteran presence that very well might be worth the $7 million...but his abilities don't fit a guard of his prestige and pay.
Herrera, however, is cheaper, and at age 31, recovering from ACL surgery and triceps surgery might force him out. At the same time, he very well could stay since he is cheap. Until the draft, like Robison, this is a grey area.
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This may appear a lot more obvious, but it helps to decide whether big Pat Williams will return or not when the man himself says something like, "They're going to be rebuilding around here, it's going to be kind of rough. They've got about 20 free agents on this team. It will be real rough."
Add on that Pat is returning for a Super Bowl title. He won't be getting it playing for Minnesota when he won't get the snaps (around 25 a game) or effort unless he's playing for another team.
All signs point to a new place that needs a big guy to get into a Super Bowl. Minnesota will very likely not be that team.
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After an amazing 2008 campaign for Berrian featuring an impressive 20.1 yards per catch average and catching one of only 11 99-yard pass touchdowns in NFL history, Bernard has become nothing short of irrelevant.
One might take a look at Berrian and blame his poor relationship and chemistry with the Vikings' now-former quarterback, Brett Favre. Then again, when Brett did give Bernard the targets, Berrian often would drop the pass or show a significant speed deficiency from what he was known for.
It can also be argued that Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson (in 2008) were partial to Berrian's abilities versus what the receiving corps consisted of at the time. This would explain Berrian's targets and his numbers from his first year in purple.
However, afterwards, Favre, who is known for being a community passer, spread it around quite evenly to the likes of Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe and then-rookie Percy Harvin.
2009 can almost arguably show little to no separation from the effectiveness he had in the year prior, just an offense more equipped and spread out.
2010, however, showed his slowing speed and hands that weren't as sure as one might recall.
Add in his $3.9 million due in 2011, $6.9 million in 2012 and $7.9 million due in 2013, and one might argue that the Vikings will opt out and let Berrian and his ballooning and faulty contract go.
There may be a trade, but his next two seasons of contract may scare a lot of teams away. The likely scenario is Berrian being released.
Then again, head coach Leslie Frazier has talked with Berrian, and the talks went well according to accounts.
With that said, Berrian's likelihood of staying has increased but is by no means sound.
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A part of the secondary woes that Minnesota has suffered has been due to its safety play. Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams have been the two in question. With Williams due a $5.4 million base salary for 2011, the Vikings aren't likely to entertain a borderline starter like Williams for as much as he's due.
Being placed on IR in Week 16 for a concussion, Williams had a likely fitting ending a to once-promising career when he signed to Minnesota after leaving the Cincinnati Bengals after four seasons.
Now turning 30 in October of 2011, Williams doesn't carry the same upside or pop that he once did when he came to Minnesota.
Madieu will likely be a salary casualty and will have to settle for a significantly smaller contract just to have a job, much less start.
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Most Viking critics might spot Leber as one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL. His skills and performance have shown solid and consistent play from the left side.
The one problem is that Leber now holds the cards, and at age 32 the Vikings may shy away with younger and cheaper options available.
All things considered, Ben only played 51.1 percent of the snaps in 2010. His role is receding, and his age affects his play at one of the most athletic positions on the team.
Add in the need for Vikings veteran Chad Greenway, and the rebuilding Vikings are likely to focus on a younger, if not in-house, option. Jasper Brinkley has been considered, and of course after E.J. Henderson's broken femur in 2009, Brinkley proved he was field-worthy, if not able.
With all that said, Leber is not exactly a sure thing to return and may be seeking a two- to three-year deal elsewhere with possibly somebody buying high on him to possibly start and get the big bucks that he may have deserved for a couple of seasons in Minnesota.