Former Viking Dropped by Steelers

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

NFL free agency is about 2.5 weeks away, and player movement began this week with a handful of players dropped by existing teams.

Former Viking Dropped by Steelers

Men like Xavien Howard (CB, Miami Dolphins) and Isaiah Oliver (CB, San Francisco 49ers) were released this week, clearing cap space for their former respective teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers made a move, too, releasing former Minnesota Vikings center Mason Cole.

by Steelers
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The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov tweeted Friday, “Just in: The Steelers have released center Mason Cole, clearing $4.75M in cap space. Cole has started all 32 games the last two years for Pittsburgh.”

Cole, 27, will hit the open market and can sign with any of the NFL’s 32 teams.

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The ex-Vikings lineman produced a 57.3 Pro Football Focus grade in 2023 and a 67.1 mark in 2022. In theory, he could end up as a starter around the NFL next season, but he might be best served as a backup offensive lineman, like the Vikings’ version of Cole last year, Austin Schlottmann.

Before the Steelers relationship, which lasted for two seasons, Cole was a Viking in 2021. Former general manager Rick Spielman acquired him from the Arizona Cardinals in the spring of 2021. Cole is a center by trade, but the Vikings adored moving offensive linemen from their organic positions during the Spielman era. So, fans tangibly believed Cole would replace Dakota Dozier at right guard in 2021, who started most of 2020 and struggled.

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Cole ultimately did not move to guard, but Dozier wasn’t re-upped as starting right guard either. That title was awarded to Oli Udoh, a player who started the 2021 season strong but soon devolved into penalties and reduced production. Lo and behold, Cole emerged as the Vikings starting center.

With the Steelers, Cole started every game from the start of 2022 until the end of 2023. The man is durable. He’s also a name worth monitoring during the Vikings‘ free agency, as Minnesota needs offensive line depth heading into the 2024 offseason. Some even believe Cole is a better center than the Vikings’ existing starter, Garrett Bradbury.

The Steelers ranked 17th leaguewide in 2023 per PFF’s offensive line rankings. They’ll spend the next few months determining how to get closer to the Top 10.

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Pittsburgh employs a handful of other former Vikings, including Patrick Peterson (CB), Kalon Barnes (CB), and Chandon Sullivan (CB), although Sullivan is scheduled to hit free agency.

The Steelers have also been whispered in the Kirk Cousins free-agent sweepstakes if the Vikings don’t re-sign the quarterback in the next few weeks.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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