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Report: Vikings RT Phil Loadholt to Retire

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.

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.

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Austin Belisle

Austin Belisle is the West Coast's biggest Vikings fan, a football diehard cheering on the purple and yellow from sunny California. After graduating from San Jose State University in 2014, he began working full-time in corporate marketing and blogging on various sports websites. Austin's passion for the Vikings led him to Vikings Territory, where he hopes to share his lifelong enthusiasm for the team with readers on a daily basis. You can follow him on Twitter @austincbelisle

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7 Comments

  1. Big Phil was a guy every Viking fan found it easy to root for. Big guy who played hard and set physical tone for Vikings Offensive line for years. There is a reason ADs career run yards chart is right sided. In addition He is a good influence on young players and a respected guy in the NFL community. Congratulations Mr. Loadholt from a fans perspective you did it right.

  2. It sucks when guys have to retire because of injuries. I’m sure it would have been fun for him to finally play for a contender. I’ll definitely miss watching him maul 2-3 defenders for AP to break off a 60 touchdown run

    1. Careful Zac, you mentioned a positive about Adrian.. don’t get Mike Kantletgo started. His opinion differs and he is always more intelligent than the average poster here on VT.

    2. To be fair, Loadholt started on both the 2009 and 2012 teams, so he’s had the playoff experience. I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded another run, though. Best of luck to him!

  3. I wouldn’t necessarily say that Clemmings is a “natural” right tackle, and I was under the impression that they wanted him to be available as a swing tackle this year, anyway. Also, I’d bet on Austin Sirles making the final 53-man roster ahead of Beavers, who I think is destined for the practice squad.

  4. I think Jeremiah Sirles has a shot…But maybe TJ …TJ improved a bit at the end and lets face it, TJ just did not have the experience…He has some now…

    I just don`t see Beavers making the 53….PS material for a year.

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