Eleven rookies make Vikings' final 53-man roster
MINNEAPOLIS—The theme of the Vikings' roster is youth.
The 53-man unit was set Saturday, and 11 rookies made it, including three who were undrafted. In the surprise move of the day, the Vikings released an eight-year veteran in Alex Boone, 30, who had been their starting left guard.
Boone was let go after declining to take a pay cut. Of Boone's $6.6 million salary for 2007, $3.4 million of it is guaranteed, and will count against the Vikings' salary cap. He also already has earned a $100,000 workout bonus.
The move assures that rookie Pat Elflein, who had been battling Nick Easton for the job, will be the starting center, with Easton shifting to left guard to replace Boone. The other starters on a reconstructed offensive line will be left tackle Riley Reiff, right guard Joe Berger and right tackle Mike Remmers.
Elflein is one of the three selections from April's draft in line to start as rookies. Running back Dalvin Cook is a lock to open Monday, Sept. 11, against New Orleans at U.S. Bank Stadium, and weak-side linebacker Ben Gedeon is also likely to start after getting the nod in the last three preseason games.
The Vikings officially announced Saturday a trade agreed to Friday to send a seventh-round draft pick in 2018 to Seattle for cornerback Tramaine Brock. They officially announced the release of 34 players, although 14 of the moves had been reported Friday by the Pioneer Press.
The Vikings placed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, out since suffering a torn left ACL and dislocated knee Aug. 30, 2016, in practice, on the physically unable to perform list to start the season. He can't practice or play for the first six weeks.
The Vikings put defensive tackle Datone Jones on injured reserve with a shoulder injury,and could work out an injury settlement to release him. They kept defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who has a knee injury, on the reserve/non-football injury list. And wide receiver Michael Floyd, serving an NFL suspension for the first four games, was placed on the suspended list.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke and wide receiver. R.J. Shelton were waived with injury designations. Heinicke suffered a mild concussion in Thursday's preseason finale against Miami and has been dealing with a strained right oblique muscle. Shelton suffered a fractured foot against the Dolphins.
The Vikings are not going with young players for their specialists, however. In expected outcomes, kicker Kai Forbath beat out Marshall Koehn and punter Ryan Quigley won the battle with rookie Taylor Symmank.
Other drafted rookies on the 53-man roster are defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, guard Danny Isidora, wide receivers Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley and tight end Bucky Hodges. Defensive end Tashawn Bower, linebacker Eric Wilson and tackle Aviante Collins made it as undrafted rookies.
Three seventh-round picks from April, though, were cut. They were defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, linebacker Elijah Lee and safety Jack Tocho.
"I'm disappointed," Odenigbo said. "I tried. There's still lots I can improve... I still think I should have been on the 53-man roster. ... We have quite a bit of D-ends, but I happen to be the odd man out."
It's a young middle of the offensive line with Elflein, 23, and Easton, 25, a third-year man who played in his first 11 NFL regular-season games last year. However, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth said at recent Vikings practice he was "really impressed" with how Elflein looked at center and Easton at left guard in an Aug. 18 preseason game at Seattle.
That game marked the top performance of the preseason by the line, and played a role in Boone's release. Boone, who signed a four-year, $26.8 million contract with the Vikings in March 2016, sat out that night with knee injury.
Along with Boone, other veteran players cut by the Vikings included cornerback Jabari Price, a 2014 draftee; center Zac Kerin, undrafted in 2014; and linebacker Edmond Robinson and offensive linemen T.J. Clemmings and Austin Shepherd, all 2015 selections.
Players with local ties let go were former University of Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner and wide receiver Isaac Fruechte and cornerback Terrell Sinkfield, a Minnetonka native.
Another young player to make the 53-man roster was fullback C.J. Ham. Although he's not a rookie, he didn't get into any games last season after being an undrafted free agent.