The Minnesota Vikings are going to have to make a lot of decisions this offseason regarding the players they want to have on their roster for the 2016 season. They already have 15 players set to be unrestricted or restricted free agents this offseason, but there are also a few players that you can expect will have their contracts looked at this offseason and either be released or asked to renegotiate.
One of those players could be veteran defensive end Brian Robison, who still has two years remaining on the contract extension he signed in 2013. He will be entering into his 10th season with the Vikings in 2016 and will be turning 33 in April. Still, he is going to be owed $5.05 million this coming season and $6.6 million in 2017.
It is possible that the Vikings will see that as too much money for an aging defensive lineman and ask him to negotiate. For him, returning is a top priority.
“I sure hope so,” Robison said when asked if he expects to be back next season. “I’m going to do everything on my end to hopefully be back next year. But we all know the NFL is a business and we’ve seen a lot of great players and a lot of good players get released and moved from teams. But that’s out of my control, man. All I can do is move forward and control what I can control and understand that God has a plan for me.”
Robison played a big role in Zimmer’s defense in 2015. Playing not only defensive end, but also playing defensive tackle as the three-technique and standing up and playing a defensive line-linebacker hybrid, too. He said that it was the most he has ever been asked to do in his career and he thinks that his play warrants him returning to the team for another season.
One big thing that could be standing in the way of him returning or the team moving on from him is the fact that they have used high draft picks on defensive ends the past two seasons.
The Vikings used a third-round pick in 2014 to draft Scott Crichton out of Oregon State. He has not played a huge role on defense during his first two seasons in the league, but he did see his role increase on both defense and special teams in his second season before ending up on injured reserve.
He is a big defensive end whose game is similar to Robison’s in that they are both more of a run-stopping end on the left side of the defensive line.
Then in 2015 the Vikings used another third-round pick to select Danielle Hunter out of LSU. Hunter was able to emerge as a future star in this league as a rookie, recording six sacks, 3½ of which came during a three-game stretch late in the season.
Either Crichton or Hunter could be used to fill in for Robison if the Vikings chose to part ways with the veteran defensive end, but they wouldn’t be able to replace the leadership he provides the team. The Vikings have a very young defense and it would be younger if they decide not to bring back veteran linebacker Chad Greenway, who is a free agent, this offseason.
Robison proved this past season that he is still able to play at a high level and he has made it clear he is willing to do almost anything to stay in Minnesota. Whether or not that happens is still up in the air, but Zimmer has said on multiple occasions that Robison is the kind of player he likes to have on his team.