Wednesday, November 25, 2015

McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Josh Freeman stole most of the headlines regarding the Vikings this week, but Wednesday brought a flurry of activity from Winter Park, and here are your resulting roster updates:

McLeod Bethel-Thompson:  Many Minnesota fans hoped to see “MBT” sneak onto the practice squad after he was the casualty cut following the Freeman signing.  Not only would retaining him have allowed the Vikings to continue developing him, but it could have provided them greater flexibility and leverage in potential trade scenarios involving either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel.  Instead, the San Francisco Forty-Niners claimed him off waivers.  MBT started his career with the Niners, but has yet to see any regular season playing time with any of the teams he has signed with since 2011.

Brian Robison:  One of my favorite Vikings is defensive end Brian Robison, mainly because of his unheralded consistency on the left side, so I was elated to hear that the Vikings signed him to a four year contract extension.  The deal is reportedly worth $28.3 million, with $13.1 million in guarantees and a $5 million signing bonus.  Robison has been one of the best 4-3 left ends in the NFL, particularly in the pass rushing department, so it is no surprise that the contract incentives are tied directly to sack numbers.  Robison, the class act that he is, joked with reporters that the quality of bass fishing in Minnesota was a major factor in his decision to re-up.  Defensive ends Jared Allen and Everson Griffen are also in contract years.

Justin Trattou:  The Vikings also made a waiver claim on Wednesday and they were awarded defensive end Justin Trattou who was recently released by the New York Giants.  Trattou was undrafted out of Florida in 2011 and has bounced around the Giants practice squad and active roster over the last couple of years.  He has very limited playing time and is mostly an unknown at this point.  Still, the Vikings front office thought highly enough of his potential that they jettisoned defensive end George Johnson to make room for him.

This afternoon, the Vikings officially made Josh Freeman the newest QB to come to Minnesota. In doing so, the team had to decide who would be released from the team to make room for the ex-Buccaneers signal caller. Ultimately, the team decided to waive third-string QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Though he never saw regular season playing time with the Vikings, many fans were intrigued by the prospect of Bethel-Thompson continuing to develop and potentially turning into something worthwhile eventually.

Of course, the decision to release Bethel-Thompson instead of a certain Christian Ponder, who is currently dealing with a rib injury, sparked some backlash amongst fans. While there were other routes the Vikings could have taken to make room for Freeman, to me, waiving Bethel-Thompson seemed the most obvious and correct move to make. While it was fun to think that maybe, possibly, someday MBT could develop into a franchise quarterback and great story, it was highly unlikely. Instead, the Vikings chose to retain three more experienced quarterbacks and have a full-fledged quarterback battle.

The Vikings entered the 2012 regular season with three quarterbacks who had less than a season’s worth of combined starting experience.  While that lack of experience showed up throughout the season, particularly when Christian Ponder needed to be replaced during their playoff game in Green Bay, their playoff appearance indicated that the struggles on offense were not nearly as many and devastating as most of us thought they would be.

Christian Ponder played all 16 games of his second season in the NFL and boasted a 10-6 record when all was said and done, which was good enough for second place in the NFC North, and a playoff berth.  Vikings fans eagerly awaited Ponder’s first full season as the team’s starter and couldn’t wait to see him take a huge leap forward in his progression.  While Ponder did improve from 2011 to 2012 in almost every possible statistic, the leap seemed more accurately described as a baby step, and even the most optimistic of Vikings struggled to identify a game in which he took over and dominated in a way that provided much hope that he is a true franchise quarterback.

His best game was his last, the season finale against Green Bay, where he came out of the contest with a career best quarterback rating of 120.2, after throwing for 234 yards and three touchdowns.  Even while posting those numbers, however, Ponder still managed to be overshadowed by the record-chasing Adrian Peterson and led some to wonder why he wasn’t able to take advantage of that elite ground game earlier and more often.

Ponder attempted 483 passes in 2012, completing 62.1% of them.  He converted for 2,935 yards and 18 touchdowns while suffering 12 interceptions and taking 32 sacks.  The season ended with him having an 81.2 quarterback rating.

As of right now, the Vikings have two quarterbacks on the roster:  Christian Ponder and Joe Webb.

Friday, they added a third.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson played for UCLA his freshman year before transferring to Sacramento State.  Last year he spent time with the Dolphins, Niners, in the UFL, and in the AFL.  His time with Sacramento State was marred by injuries.

At 23 years old, Bethel-Thompson is likely to be little more than a camp arm this offseason, but it is nice to see Rick Spielman getting a jump start on filling even the smallest of needs this Vikings roster has.

Get Social