We have discussed this team’s oldest players. We have discussed them going from one of the NFL’s youngest teams to the second oldest this last offseason. We’ve also discussed the youngest players that are currently listed as starters.
Today, in the wake of the 36 year old Joe Berger getting a one-year contract extension, we wanted to take you on a tour of the contract situations of other Vikings players as they prepare to open the regular season in Tennessee tomorrow.
Rick Spielman has been known to negotiate an in-season extension or two as a reward for good performance, and it is possible a few options for this treatment currently exist on the roster.
Here is the list of Vikings first-teamers that will play the first game of their last season under their current contract tomorrow.
Matt Kalil, LT, Age 27
The Vikings had little choice but to retain left tackle Matt Kalil under the fifth-year option that cost them over $11 million in 2016 cap space. If Kalil continues to struggle, regardless of his injury status, they may decide to finally call him a failed first round pick and move on. It isn’t overly obvious that he has a replacement already on the roster, so the choice to let Kalil walk in free agency could force the Vikings to prioritize that position, but there is no doubt that the light finally coming on for Kalil and having him play his best season yet is the best possible scenario for both the team and the player.
Captain Munnerlyn, CB, Age 28
The Vikings don’t technically have Munnerlyn listed as a starter, but we know he is practically one as the team’s top slot corner. Munnerlyn has really come into his own as a leader within the Vikings secondary and came to Minnesota under a fairly manageable salary. The selection of Mackensie Alexander this year makes Munnerlyn’s future as a Viking intriguing, of course, but there is no particular reason not to at least try and retain him next offseason unless he regresses badly.
Andre Smith, OT, Age 29
We have yet to see anything out of Smith as a Viking to suggest he is anything close to a long-term solution at right tackle. He will get a 16 game season (and hopefully some more) to prove otherwise, however, and his performance alone will likely determine if his stay in Minnesota ends up being longer than the one-year contract he signed this offseason.
Shaun Hill, QB, Age 36
If Hill is the starter during Week One, we all know he won’t be for long. The trade for Sam Bradford means that the Vikings have little faith in Hill’s abilities. He knows this, everybody knows this. The second oldest player on the team might be best served to seek a change of scenery next season… or even retirement. Although, if Bradford gets hurt (as he’s prone to do) this season and Hill steps in and leads the Vikings to greatness… well, wouldn’t that be something?
Terence Newman, CB, Age 38
The team’s oldest player still managed to make the roster in 2016, despite the abundance of young talent at the cornerback position. That is quite the feat in its own right, but don’t be surprised if his role on the defense starts to decrease as Zimmer transitions the younger guys into more and more playing time. There is little reason to expect Newman will be a Viking beyond this season, but that should not take away from his accomplishments as a Viking.
Chad Greenway, LB, Age 33
One of Minnesota’s favorite Vikings, and all-around good guy, Chad Greenway has essentially committed to this being his last season. He is initially listed as a starter at the weakside spot, but I suspect that this is a formality only. With Emmanuel Lamur and even Brian Robison poised to take snaps away from Greenway, his experience and leadership are perhaps his most valuable assets at this point in his career.
Zach Line, FB, Age 26
The Vikings have continued to employ their fulltime fullback this season, which may come as a bit of a surprise, but makes particular sense now that it seems they will be relying heavier on Adrian Peterson than originally planned. If they continue to roster a fullback in the future, there is no particular reason to think it wouldn’t be Line.
Jeff Locke, P, Age 26
Many Vikings fans wanted Locke replaced this offseason, but it didn’t happen. If Locke continues to be inconsistent on his best days, and terrible on his worst, then the Vikings should absolutely plan on cutting their losses next offseason (or sooner) and invest some time into finding a better punter.
Other players entering their contract year, but are not currently starters, include: Tight end Rhett Ellison, offensive lineman Mike Harris, running back Matt Asiata, linebacker Audie Cole, wide out Cordarrelle Patterson, and defensive end Justin Trattou.