Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings DE Justin Trattou living life on the roster bubble

Defensive end Justin Trattou was confident he would be back, and he is, but he found out how precarious his spot is with his release last week before re-signing on Monday.

Most fans think of NFL players are being rich and living their dream out for years as professional football players. The reality is often very different.

Players who are on the back end of the roster are never allowed the luxury of job security. Minnesota Vikings defensive end Justin Trattou learned that lesson the hard way over the last week.

With the Vikings desperately low at safety with injuries to Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Robert Blanton and Antone Exum, the team needed to make moves in the short-term to address the glaring need on a short week heading into Arizona.

As a result, the team signed former Vikings defensive back Shaun Prater off the street and elevated Anthony Harris from the practice squad. The team needed to make room for both of them. To add Prater, they placed Exum on injured reserve. To add Harris, they released Trattou.

So much for the glitz and glamor of the NFL. It can all end in an instant.

Fortunately for Trattou, when it was explained to him, the plan wasn’t a severing of ties. It was an emergency move and he was just short-term collateral damage with full expectation to return.

Then again, there was a little nervousness on Trattou’s part when he left Winter Park last week.

“That’s what was said to me,” Trattou said. “But, at the same time, you’ve got to understand that it’s a business. You got to take it for what it is because there aren’t any guarantees in this game. But it all worked out. I’m back and ready to roll. No complaints.”

One of the wild cards that could have come into play was that a team could have claimed Trattou off waivers. It didn’t happen, but the thought crossed his mind that he might get a call from another team needing defensive end help.

“There’s always that chance,” Trattou said. “Nobody claimed me. I don’t think you have a choice. If somebody claims you, you go. My thing was that I really wanted to stay here. My agent said that I could get called in for a workout somewhere, but I was confident I was coming back. I love this system and I think I can contribute, so I just wanted to come back. This is where I want to be.”

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Trattou said he tried not to think about the possibility of pulling up stakes and going to a new team for the final three games of the regular season and potentially the playoffs. But he kept his fingers crossed that the Vikings would be true to their word.

Had that call come, he wasn’t sure how he would react. He felt he has a place with the Vikings organization, but when the team releases you, there is that lingering feeling that you may not be in the long-term plan and it’s necessary to weigh your professional options.

“That’s definitely part of it, where you have to look out for yourself because having a job in the NFL is far from a guarantee,” Trattou said. “If somebody wants you or has a plan for you, you have to listen. But it all worked out. This is where I want to be.”

Everything worked out for the best – Trattou’s locker was never cleaned out because the team had every intention of bringing him back. There were some hard feelings he went through – a “why me?” sort of thing. In the end, he was glad that things worked out as the big scheme of things ordained. Prater was released. Trattou is back and he hopes he doesn’t have to go through wondering whether the team was just giving him lip service about having him as part of their plans moving forward.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about that a little bit, but I understood why they did it and they were pretty up front with me about it,” Trattou said. “At the end of the day, you can only control what you can control and the rest of it will work itself out. I’m just glad it worked out the way it was laid out to me last week when they made the move.”


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