Vikings Lose Ellison, Kalil, Locke
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings lost three key members of their 2016 roster during the first day of the 2017 NFL Free Agency period.

Tight end and fullback hybrid Rhett Ellison agreed to a deal with the New York Giants, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.

Minnesota already has a similar player on the roster in 2016 sixth-round selection David Morgan. The Texas-San Antonio alum recorded Pro Football Focus’ highest blocking grade in the 2015 college football season among tight ends.

Ellison caught 51 passes for 515 yards and three touchdowns in his Vikings career. Additionally, he tallied one career carry — a one-yard score that put the Vikings ahead of the Detroit Lions late in a Week 9 matchup this past season (Minnesota went on to lose thanks to a truly unfortunate series of events).

Sixth-year left tackle Matt Kalil agreed to join his brother Ryan on the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line. The massive contract agreement is a five-year deal worth $55 million, including $25 million guaranteed, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today.

Kalil’s departure momentarily left Minnesota with only TJ Clemmings and Rashod Hill as its top left tackles before the recent acquisition of Riley Reiff.

A former fourth overall draft selection, Kalil played only two games in 2016 before missing the rest of the season due to injury. Kalil’s durability has been unreliable at best throughout his career and it has likely played a factor in his performance the past few seasons.

Punter Jeff Locke is also on his way out, according to Garafolo. Locke will replace longtime Colt Pat McAfee, who announced his retirement just over a month ago.

After struggling in his first three seasons, Locke started to show improvement in his fourth season. The former UCLA Bruin tallied a punt average of 42.6 yards in 2016, up from 41.6 in 2015.

Locke’s departure disintegrates the trio of UCLA Bruins that made up the Vikings’ specialist group. Kicker Kai Forbath and long snapper Kevin McDermott both played college ball for UCLA.

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