Free Agency

Vikings Lose Ellison, Kalil, Locke in Free Agency

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

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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Drew Mahowald

Drew Mahowald is a student at Saint John's University (MN) majoring in Media Communication. He proclaims himself as the number one fan of Little Caesars pizza and Jim Kleinsasser. The first Vikings game Drew remembers watching is the 41-0 blowout loss to the Giants in the 2000 NFC Championship game. Despite this, he has developed a deep knowledge and passion for the team. When he isn't writing about the Vikings, Drew is usually out golfing with friends or eating Little Caesar's pizza. You can find more of his work at, the SB Nation affiliate Minnesota Timberwolves blog, or on Twitter at @DrewMahowald.

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  1. Caroline paid a ridiculous price for Kalil. Unless he goes back to rookie form..Way overpaid….Reiff, while not great, seems a huge upgrade. I think Reiff instead of TJ would have been 2 more wins during the year (Sirles was not great, but given he bounced around positions, he was not horrible…If he could be RT for a year it would not surprise me if he reaches competent plus levels

    And not sure Locke was worth much more than the minimum…For P and K, I do not mind paying for high level performance…But Locke was just averagish (pretty good first half…but garbage the last month).


  2. Congratulations to Ellison. I’m happy to see him get a good, long-term deal somewhere. I’m honestly sorry to see Locke go; after calling for his head for two or three years, I was genuinely pleased with the job he did during the first half of 2016. As for Kalil signing with the Panthers, I’m tempted to go to church and light a candle in thanks to the God I don’t believe in that he will no longer be a Minnesota Viking. Nevertheless, I wish him, Rhett and Jeff nothing but success in their careers.