Infamous Ex-Vikings Lineman Announces Retirement

Dakota Dozier
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive line has been a hot topic in Minnesota for a long time. Former general manager Rick Spielman invested in the group year after year but couldn’t correctly fix the unit. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was under duress way more than a pocket passer should be, and the running game has been too reliant on the runners.

Infamous Ex-Vikings Lineman Announces Retirement

Former Vikings Lineman Announces Retirement
Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive tackles have been fine for a while. Brian O’Neill has handled the right tackle duties since 2018, while left tackle Christian Darrisaw is an elite blindside protector. His predecessor, Riley Reiff, was also solid for the Vikings.

The enormous problem, however, has been the subpar interior of the line. Centers Pat Elflein and Garrett Bradbury were highly-touted prospects but couldn’t live up to their pre-draft hype. The two guard spots have been a revolving door for quite some time. Many may have already forgotten some of the starters in recent years, like Josh Kline or Tom Compton.

One name that has stuck in the heads of Skol Nation is Dakota Dozier. A spot starter in 2019 and the full-time starting guard in 2020, the 32-year-old has announced his retirement from the sport on Instagram.

Dozier came into the league in 2014 as a fourth-round draft choice of the New York Jets. Staring at Furman, Dozier was an FCS All-American twice in his collegiate career as an offensive tackle.

The lineman spent his entire rookie contract with the Jets and signed a contract extension, prolonging his stint for another year. Dozier logged 38 appearances and seven starts in those five seasons, playing in multiple spots across the line and as a sixth lineman.

After leaving the Jets in 2019, he joined the Vikings, a team desperate for offensive line help. He was added as a backup but played 361 snaps as a left guard, right guard, and center. His versatility made him extremely valuable because he could replace injured players in all spots.

Dakota Dozier
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2020, the Vikings promoted Dozier to starting left guard, and he logged 100% of the team’s offensive snaps (1,084).

While he was extremely reliable, his performances were underwhelming. His Pro Football Focus grade of 44.6 in his season as a starter and the pass-block grade of 36.7 positioned him in the bottom three of NFL guards with at least 400 snaps. The 45 allowed QB pressures led all guards.

The Vikings then started Oli Udoh in 2021, while Dozier had a spot on the practice squad and only appeared on special teams. One year later, Ed Ingram replaced Udoh, and Dalton Risner took over for Cleveland. The identity of the new LG is still a mystery, although last year’s backup, Blake Brandel, could be an option.

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In 2022, Dozier signed a contract with the Chicago Bears, but a torn ACL suffered during a minicamp practice ended his first campaign in Chicago. He hasn’t appeared since and has now ended his football career.

The lineman started a total of 27 contests in his career and played in 76.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt