Rumors

RUMOR: Vikings Want to Keep Loadholt in 2016

The Minnesota Vikings need help along the offensive line. And rather than look to free agency or the NFL Draft, general manager Rick Spielman has his sights set on the current roster.

Phil Loadholt, the team’s former starting right tackle, missed the entire 2015 season with a torn achilles. After a season spent recovering on Injured Reserve, Loadholt’s quietly made enough progress to warrant a return in 2016. Despite the speculation about his contract situation and age, all signs point to Loadholt taking the field as a starter next season:

Wolfson’s report comes as offensive linemen and running backs begin workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine. There’s plenty of talent to be had in this year’s class of prospects, but Loadholt is “right on track” with his recovery and could make a full return to the field by the start of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). And given the question marks surrounding T.J. Clemmings, a healthy, 30 year-old Loadholt is possibly the safest option at right tackle moving forward.

Aside from Loadholt’s health and advanced age, his contract is the most obvious barrier to a return with the Vikings. Loadholt signed four-year, $25 million contract extension with the team in 2013, making him one of the 10 highest-paid right tackles in the NFL. And in 2016, Loadholt’s salary cap hit is $7.75 million, which is the fifth-highest among all qualifying Vikings.

The Vikings clearly believe Loadholt can return to his 2013 and 2014 form, when he was considered one of the top tackles in the league. Pro Football Focus graded him as the fourth-best run-blocker among all right tackles in 2013, and at 6’8″, 343 pounds, he’s one of the most physical members of Minnesota’s offensive line. Wolfson also shared that team officials met with Loadholt’s agent last night to discuss a restructure.

On the other side of the offensive line, Wolfson reported that the front office is “torn” on what to do with former first-round pick Matt Kalil. The oft-criticized left tackle has yet to show he was worth the third-overall pick in 2012, making it hard to justify his $11 million cap hit in 2016. If Spielman decides to part ways with Kalil this offseason, he’d be doing so without any dead money. However, a move like that would create a pressing need at offensive tackle, unless the team plans to shuffle players like T.J. Clemmings along the line.

 

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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. Smart move. By far and away the best lineman in camp last year. Thirty isn’t that old for lineman. Jason Peters is a perfect example of a player coming back from an achilles tear. Lower his cap hit and secure the position for a year or two.

  2. him and Harris would be bulldozers in the run game oh man :O I liked what the Pats did at the beginning of last year rotating in lineman, I could see the Vikes use this strategy as they will likely have 3 Offensive lineman that were starters in 2015 as backups in 2016. Berger, Fusco, Clemmings…Berger is damn good, I expect clemmings to be MUCH better after getting thrown to the wolves his first year. And Fusco is arguably better than Harris at RG..just wasn’t a good fit at LG..

  3. I like Phil… but safest pick? No player has been paid more cap$$ and produced less for 2 straight years. A huge share of talent dollars have been paid to Vikes OLine (Sully & Kalil IR Brothers over 30 and Kalil due 11 million for getting on field but playing less than average for two years. Its a mess. There is no safe and you can’t blow the whole thing up at once. Have to cut at least one of the expensive 3 (Can’t project health – Flip a coin) Restructures could eliminate some of the risk – don’t know if they can? Why I like Whitehare in draft because he has position flexibility since there is no certainty of who can play week to week, but of course that thinking its easy to go from right to left turned Fusco from solid to horrible. So there is no safe. My plan A) Cut 1 B) Draft 1 C) Sign 1 D) Cross fingers

  4. Speilman also made it sound like Wallace will be back for sure. He said you was a huge leader in the locker room and Zimmer really likes his unselfishness.

    1. Restructure Loadholt , Sully, Kahlil, Wallace ..keep Harris Fusco Berger ,draft a few others and let them fight for jobs …keep Greenway and Newman .need a safety draft or FA same with olb .then get WR or two again draft or FA then RB

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