JC Tretter Wanted the Vikings

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Aug 22, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports.

Earlier on Thursday morning, JC Tretter announced that he was retiring from football after a nine-year NFL career. However, prior to that retirement, it seems that Tretter was trying to find a spot on an NFL roster. It makes sense, considering that he has been one of the league’s most effective centers during his time with the Browns. In particular, it seemed JC Tretter wanted the Vikings, but according to the man himself, Minnesota “never returned [his] calls”.

The Vikings are in the midst of an age of uncertainty at the center position so declining to even chat with a center as effective as Tretter may be puzzling to some. That said, the reasoning is likely very simple: he simply wasn’t healthy enough.

The Sports Illustrated piece by Alex Prewitt spells it all out. Tretter underwent meniscus surgery in the winter of 2020, he regularly had to have his knees drained during the season, and he iced so regularly that his knee began developing signs of frostbite.

Tretter’s knees were clearly deteriorating at a rapid rate, yet he continued to be one of the most consistent starters in the NFL while also doing great work as the NFLPA president. During his five-year stint with the Browns, he started 80 of a possible 81 regular season games. Cleveland then released him this offseason in order to save $8.25 million of salary cap space.

Clearly, Garrett Bradbury has had his struggles during his early NFL career for the Vikings, so much so that the Vikings would not pick up his fifth-year option for 2023. That said, picking up Tretter in the year 2022 is like holding a metal rod in the middle of a lightning storm: you’re asking to get burned.

Bradbury may not be the center of the future, but it’s better to have a competent run-blocker at center rather than committing a significant amount of cap space to a center that hasn’t practiced in two years and could go down with an injury at any moment. Austin Schlottmann has also emerged as a candidate if the Vikings decide that Bradbury ultimately cannot hold down the middle of the offensive line.

At the end of the day, despite JC Tretter’s desire to join the Vikings, the team is certainly justified in its lack of interest. Tretter’s injury history is well-documented at this point, and with his retirement, it’s clear that Minnesota isn’t the only franchise that doesn’t trust his health moving forward. It’s time to accept that Bradbury is the guy in the middle as the regular season approaches.