Phil Loadholt’s career with the Minnesota Vikings is coming to an abrupt, if unsurprising end. As first reported by Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan, Loadholt informed the team that he plans to retire in the coming days.
Vikings' OT Phil Loadholt is expected to retire pending meeting with team officials today, sources told @caplannfl and me.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 25, 2016
Loadholt, who’s played just 11 of the Vikings’ 32 games since 2014, was attempting a comeback from last season’s torn achilles. That injury, coupled with a torn pectoral muscle the season before, made it difficult for Loadholt to ever get back to full strength. According to Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune, Loadholt suffered yet another injury setback at the end of spring practices, likely finalizing his decision to hang up the cleats for good.
The Vikings knew Loadholt’s injuries would make a 2016 return difficult. Thus, the team signed the tackle to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, per Chris Tomasson. Loadholt was set to make $6 million in 2016, but his new $2-million contract would have been worth as much as $3.5 million with incentives.
“My whole thing was just wanting to get back on the field,” Loadholt said, per Tomasson. “I knew some things had to happen (with his contract). I didn’t really care.”
This spring, Loadholt proclaimed that he was “moving well” and would be “ready to roll” at the start of training camp. But the Vikings were aggressive, taking no chances to shore up the weakest position on the offensive line. The front office signed free agent right tackle Andre Smith, a five-year starter in Cincinnati, to a one-year, $3.5-million deal. Smith is the favorite to win the starting job.
T.J. Clemmings, Loadholt’s replacement last season, may also be in the mix at right tackle. Tomasson reported that Clemmings, who moved to left tackle earlier this spring, will get some work at his natural position when training camp begins. Aside from Smith and Clemmings, rookie Willie Beavers could also see some snaps as part of a three-man rotation.
Loadholt was selected in the second round (54th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft and spent his entire career in Minnesota. Before a rash of injuries hampered his play, Loadholt was one of the league’s most dominating right tackles. The 6’8,” 343-pound tackle opened massive holes for Adrian Peterson and stonewalled oncoming defensive ends throughout his seven-year career.
The organization, fans, and players will miss Loadholt as he transitions to life after the NFL. We wish the best of luck to “Big Phil” in all of his future endeavors.