Not So Fast on Garrett Bradbury as Vikings Starting Center

The Vikings Are a Center Away from a Complete Offense 
Sep 19, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.

For a new front office and coaching staff waltzing into Minneapolis six months ago, the Minnesota Vikings have a curiously low number of roster battles at this year’s training camp.

Ordinarily when a new regime takes charge, a flurry of roster moves and changes are enacted, but such is not the case for the 2022 Vikings. For the most part, the franchise’s roster looks eerily similar to the 2021 version.

Minnesota has a handful of training camp competitions, though. And one of them is unofficially for the center position, according to reporting from the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.

Before camp, Bradbury was considered the presumptive starter, mainly because the team spent a 1st-Round draft choice on the North Carolina State alumnus in 2019. Annually, the notion that Bradbury will “figure it out” arises, and then the man struggles with pass protection while performing run-blocking duties with ease.

To date, this is Bradbury’s resume from Pro Football Focus:

  • 2021 = 60.2 (43.7 Pass-Blocking)
  • 2020 = 61.4 (38.8 Pass-Blocking)
  • 2019 = 58.1 (38.7 Pass-Blocking)
Kirk Cousins / Garrett Bradbury
Aug 18, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Garrett Bradbury. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted in 2019 as a hopeful fix-all to the Minnesota Vikings longstanding pass-protection woes, Bradbury was a 1st-Round solution to a problem generally solved in later rounds. But then-general manager Rick Spielman didn’t want to leave anything to chance. He chose Bradbury in the 1st Round of the draft, passing on players like Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, and Jeffery Simmons.

Moreover, the Vikings declined Bradbury’s fifth-year option for 2023, which would’ve cost the Vikings $13.2 million. So, this season — perhaps this summer — is truly Bradbury’s last chance to rectify his purple career.

Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury. Green Bay, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

If Bradbury’s doesn’t suddenly adapt to average or good pass protection, free-agent signee Chris Reed has taken second-team center snaps at training camp. Because general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah signed no starting-caliber centers in free agency and drafted no rookie centers, Reed, a natural guard with center experience, may become the Vikings starting center.

Overall, if you’re frustrated by the prospect of “another year of Bradbury,” you can taper that resentment as his job is very much up for grabs.

The Vikings could also repair the center position once and for all by signing free agent JC Tretter, who was released by the Cleveland Browns in March. But that likely would’ve happened by now.

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).