If Vikings Want JC Tretter, They Probably Have to Act Now

Popular O-Lineman Again Linked to Vikings
Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter. © Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Time is of the essence if the Minnesota Vikings have any plays to sign free-agent center JC Tretter.

Ryan Jensen, the starting center for the Super Bowl-contending Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was injured on Thursday, and his 2022 prognosis looks grim.

What do great teams do when injuries arise? They problem-solve. And a tremendous contingency plan for the Buccaneers would be the exploration of signing JC Tretter.

Why? Well, Tretter is one of the best centers in the NFL. He’s curiously unsigned after the Cleveland Browns released him in March. Particularly, Tretter excels at pass-blocking, and for a team utilizing a 45-year-old quarterback in his 23rd season, pass protection should be an absolute priority.

In the last week, Tampa Bay has already signed Kyle Rudolph (TE) and Julio Jones (WR), so it’s intimately familiar with expanding the depth chart with proven veterans. The Rudolph and Jones additions make the roster indefatigable in the event players are injured. Onboarding Tretter would follow the pattern.

PurplePTSD: Tretter Still Out There, the Top 100, Earning Respect
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports.

This is Tretter’s track record via Pro Football Focus:

  • 2014 = 51.6
  • 2015 = 76.2
  • 2016 = 78.2
  • 2017 = 69.1
  • 2018 = 76.9
  • 2019 = 72.0
  • 2020 = 77.1
  • 2021 = 78.7

The Vikings claim to be embarking on the 2022 season with Garrett Bradbury at center, although he may have to win the job in training camp and in the preseason. Newcomers like Chris Reed, Ed Ingram, or Austin Schlottmann could steal Bradbury’s job if the fourth-year Viking falters.

Bradbury was drafted by Minnesota in the 1st Round of the 2019 NFL Draft. So far, he hasn’t lived up to the draft hype — or anything really close to it. He’s an adept run-blocker but habitually struggles with pass protection. For that reason, when Tretter was available on the open market, Vikings faithful envisioned a Tretter-Vikings relationship to solidify the center position. But it hasn’t happened.

Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter. © Jeff Lange via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

The Tretter-to-Minnesota idea also sizzles because of his background with the Browns. New Vikings bossman Kwesi Adofo-Mensah worked for the Browns in the last two seasons, and it seemed like a fit for the executive to “make the call.” However, this cat-and-mouse between Tretter’s free agency and Vikings fans has lasted for four months — with no movement.

If the Vikings wait too long — if they’re even interested in the first place — Tretter will be snatched by a center-needy team, probably Brady’s Buccaneers.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).