The Vikings will need to cut, trade or place on reserve lists at least 22 players by Saturday afternoon as the NFL's deadline approaches. Even more than 22 are likely gone since the team could find a few players from other teams on the waiver wire that they want to investigate.
The next 48 hours are shuffle time in the NFL.
"I think I have said from the beginning, this has been a great bunch of 80, now 75 guys. It's a great group to be around. The whittling-down process is hard. In some cases you are cutting good football players," said head coach Brad Childress. "I don't have any allusions about one man's trash is another man's treasure. People are going to end up picking up guys from us as they have in the few cuts that we have made. It is not the fun part of the job."
Worse than cutting young players a coach hardly knows is cutting veterans he's been around for years. Despite what might be Childress' best roster since he took over in 2006, young players are always making a play for veterans' jobs.
"We still got guys that are fighting to make this 53-man roster, even though you guys (media) have got some counted up. I tell these guys, don't count numbers and lines," Childress said.
While the bulk of the team's cuts will be younger guys, here are eight veterans whose jobs could be in jeopardy.
WR Bobby Wade – Wade has been the subject of much discussion when it comes to job security because of the drafting of Percy Harvin. But let's remember that Wade has led the Vikings in catches each of the past two seasons and is a safe backup option for punt returns. On offense, the reality is this: With a new quarterback who likes his tight ends and shifty rookie in Percy Harvin, Wade's receptions will almost surely go down. However, there is another reality that the coaching staff has to look at, and that's the youth at the position. If the Vikings keep Jaymar Johnson, who has earned a spot on the 53-man roster, and Darius Reynaud, who should make if they elect to keep six wide receivers, and decide to release Wade, they will be beyond inexperienced at the position. They would be downright young. Bernard Berrian has five NFL seasons to his credit, and he has struggled with a hamstring injury this preseason. Wade has six NFL season under his belt. No other receiver on the roster has more than two years of experience. Finally, his reported restricting of a contract that basically cuts his base salary in half is one last indicator that his job should be safe. Advantage: Wade.
TE Garrett Mills – Unlike the Wade situation, Mills is one of the young and relatively inexperienced tight ends among the group. He has shown athletic receiving abilities, but a propensity for nagging injuries puts him on the roster bubble. Last year, Mills was only active for eight games and his spot on the roster will depend on how many fullbacks and tight ends the Vikings want to keep. Naufahu Tahi is likely the only true fullback they will keep, and Jeff Dugan can fill that role if needed, which helps his roster status. Jim Kleinsasser and Visanthe Shiancoe are guaranteed their positions, so the Vikings' decision could come down to keeping Mills or Jake Nordin, or finding another versatile guy on the street to play the part. If Mills can make it through extensive playing time Friday night without limping to the first aid kit, he could remain roster relevant. If not, the Vikings' patience with his injuries could wear thin.
DT Jimmy Kennedy – At one time, the Vikings had fans convinced they were going to select Kennedy in the 2003 draft. Instead, it was Kevin Williams who was their Pro Bowl choice. Six years and several teams later, Kennedy is once again in danger of losing his playing card. A ruling that is expected in the next week regarding Kevin and Pat Williams' suspensions could play heavily into Kennedy's long-term status. Right now, it appears that Kennedy is not only behind the Williams Wall on the depth chart, but also behind Fred Evans and Letroy Guion. The numbers game will be determined on the team's level of confidence that Pat and Kevin remain able to play.
DE Otis Grigsby – Grigsby was signed off the Carolina Panthers practice squad during the 2007 season when the Vikings were short on defensive linemen. Since then, the depth has improved mightily in front of him, with Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and Brian Robison easily ahead of him, and Jayme Mitchell appearing to be on the comeback trail from a knee injury last preseason. The Vikings very well could go with a young and promising Martail Burnett over Grigsby, who is one of the nicest guys on the roster and offered them a viable option in desperate times.
LB David Herron – The second-year player who started three games last year in E.J. Henderson's absence is finding the linebacker corps just a bit more crowded. Henderson is back with a vengeance and fifth-round draft pick Jasper Brinkley is making a case for the 53-man roster. Heath Farwell is back to lead the special teams and offer linebacker versatility, and Erin Henderson and Kenny Onatolu are both capable of providing special teams serviceability. Friday night could be Herron's last big chance to hit another NFL payday.
CB Marcus McCauley – Last training camp, the Vikings were looking for McCauley to become their biggest contributor in the nickel defense. When a training camp injury hindered his progress, he was passed up by Charles Gordon and Benny Sapp. Gordon is gone to recover from a gruesome ankle injury, but Sapp is expected to open the season as the nickel cornerback, with rookie Asher Allen putting on a challenge. McCauley might offer the team its best option in the nickel defense if they want to slide Antoine Winfield inside, but McCauley will be fighting it out for a roster spot with Karl Paymah and a numbers game between safeties and cornerbacks.
CB Karl Paymah – Paymah signed with the Vikings as a free agent with confidence in his abilities to win the starting nickel job. That's not going to happen, and now the former Denver Bronco is left to scrap for anything he can get. He will have to have a strong preseason finale to remain on the roster and garner his fourth year of NFL employment.
S Eric Frampton – While the Vikings elected to let Darren Sharper go to New Orleans without a fight, they improved their safety depth by drafting rookie Jamarca Sanford. So far, Frampton, with two years of NFL experience, has proven to be valuable on special teams but it seems only a matter of time before Sanford garners enough confidence from the coaching staff to be considered a second-team safety along with Husain Abdullah. Right now, Frampton has more familiarity and experience with the system, but Sanford is closing ground with every passing game.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Jobs in jeopardy? 8 vets on the roster bubble
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