With unrestricted free agency just a few short weeks away, many Vikings fans are wondering how the team will address the offensive line. Amid the uncertainty, the future of one potential piece of the puzzle was given some clarity on Saturday.
The NFL’s “TV doctor” provided some insight into the injury suffered by Vikings offensive lineman Nick Easton, who underwent an operation to repair a herniated disk in August.
“Assuming a single level cervical discectomy and fusion, should be 100% and healthy to sign and have a good season,” wrote Dr. David Chao, a former NFL head team doctor and current Sports Medical Analyst for SiriusXM radio.
Assuming a single level cervical discectomy and fusion, should be 100% and healthy to sign and have a good season. https://t.co/OqW2tQ2JEP
— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) February 16, 2019
Now, the details aren’t clear on whether or not Easton’s surgery was single-level, but apparently most are. And according to another study published by Wolters Kluwer on ScienceDaily.com “the majority of NFL players who undergo surgery for a herniated disc in the upper (cervical) spine are able to resume their careers and perform at a high level.”
So while I assume each case is at least slightly different, the insight by Dr. Chao is certainly promising and could point towards a healthy return to the field for the 26 year-old.
Easton was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens in 2015. The Harvard product was then traded twice in two months. He was first dealt to the San Francisco 49ers for a 7th-round pick before he was packaged with a 6th-round pick and traded to the Vikings in exchange for linebacker Gerald Hodges.
As a member of the Vikings, Easton made six starts at center and 11 at left guard the following two seasons. In 2017, he did not allow a single sack in 748 snaps according to Pro Football Focus.
Seen as the projected starter at left guard for the 2018 season, the Vikings in March placed a second-round tender on Easton, who was then a restricted free agent. The tender paid Easton $2.914 million.
During training camp, while filling in at center for a rehabbing Pat Elflein, Easton experienced soreness in his upper back and neck. After getting checked out by an orthopedic specialist, it was determined he would need the season-ending operation. Easton underwent the surgery in Los Angeles on August 9th and missed the entire season.
The offensive lineman, who told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press back in October that he hopes to re-sign with the Vikings, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13th.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Vikings coaching staff, including new offensive line coach Rick Dennison, views Easton as part of the team’s future.