When the Vikings re-signed 34 year old long snapper Cullen Loeffler to a one year deal this offseason, and then signed free agent long snapper Kevin McDermott to a two year contract, it was fairly easy to draw some conclusions implying that the Vikings are searching for Loeffler’s replacement.
Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer essentially confirmed that Loeffler will have to win a competition if he wants to spend a 12th consecutive season on the Vikings roster. Loeffler and McDermott will essentially face off in one of the least sexy, but somewhat important, training camp battles of 2015.
“I think he wore down a little bit as the season wore on last year and I think he came back strong,” Priefer said of Loeffler to the Star-Tribune. “You know, Cullen is a great guy and he’s very competitive and he’s very passionate about what he does and he’s got a great work ethic.”
Priefer also spoke highly of McDermott, however, and revealed a plan to split snaps equally between his two long snapper options well into the preseason action.
“Kevin has come in and the chemistry between all four of these guys has been fantastic,” Priefer said. “Kevin and Cullen, they’re both wonderful young men and they compete hard, but they also help each other out, they’re very encouraging with each other, they’re great in the locker room, so whatever one we decide to go with, I think we’re in good shape. I know we’re in good shape.”
Loeffler provided us with one the biggest “oops” moments of 2014 in week 16 against Miami when a horrible snap resulted in a blocked punt for a safety with less than one minute left in a tied overtime game. He also ended the season as the lowest graded long snapper by the much-respected website Pro Football Focus.
Priefer has challenged Loeffler to improve aspects of his game this offseason, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings aren’t open to other, younger options like McDermott.