The Minnesota Vikings parted ways with 37 players on Friday and Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final moves:
Robison released after 11 seasons: One of Minnesota’s biggest moves on Saturday was the surprising cut of veteran defensive end Brian Robison. The depth the Vikings have along the defensive line with their young pass-rushers led them to part ways with Robison, who took a $2 million pay cut ahead of OTAs because he hoped to bring a Super Bowl title to the state of Minnesota. The preseason performances strung together by Stephen Weatherly and Tashawn Bower edged Robison out of the mix and provide the Vikings with ample depth behind Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. There’s also an element of the situational pass rush that is expected to be provided by linebacker Anthony Barr, who took on more responsibilities as an edge rusher in camp. Robison was originally drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round in 2007 and became a full-time starter in 2011. He was replaced in the lineup by Hunter last season but had an integral role in the rotation, playing 56 percent of snaps and recording four sacks in 2017. The Vikings decided to roll with nine defensive linemen, parting ways with Ifeadi Odenigbo, whose position flexibility could help him land on another team’s roster by Sunday, and deciding to keep David Parry as depth behind Linval Joseph at nose tackle.
Elflein comes off PUP: The second-year center sat out the entire preseason while rehabbing from ankle and shoulder surgeries but won’t have to miss the required first six weeks of the season that comes with starting the year on the PUP list. Putting Elflein on the active roster indicates the Vikings believe his return is not far off, though he’s still not expected to play Week 1. It’s an important piece of news for an offensive line that has been affected by injuries across all positions except left tackle. The Vikings kept nine offensive linemen, with Brett Jones and Danny Isidora serving as reserve options at center. There’s still a belief that the Vikings could add another guard to the mix in the coming days.
Newman retires: Hours after the Robison news, Minnesota announced it would go into the 2018 season without another veteran player following the retirement of cornerback Terence Newman. Effective immediately, Newman is joining the Vikings' coaching staff in a role that will be detailed at a later date. Newman provided the secondary with depth at every position and was expected to slide into a reserve DB role this season. He took on more reps at safety during the spring offseason program and filled in at nickel corner when Mackensie Alexander and Mike Hughes got injured at the tail end of the preseason. The move helped Minnesota with its numbers in the secondary, allowing the Vikings to keep 11 defensive backs (six corners and five safeties).
Vikings roll with five receivers: The not-so-shocking cut of Kendall Wright points to the belief Minnesota has in former first-rounder Laquon Treadwell. The Ole Miss product beat out Wright in the preseason and appears ready to take the next step. Given the flexibility Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen give Minnesota in the slot and lined up outside, the Vikings put a bigger emphasis on keeping a big-body receiver like Brandon Zylstra, whose physicality matches that of Treadwell and is an important asset in the red zone. Despite nagging injuries that prevented him from participating in a bulk of the preseason, Stacy Coley’s high ceiling and strong debut against Denver earned him a spot among the five receivers. Both Zylstra and Coley are also assets on special teams -- unlike Wright -- which is something coach Mike Zimmer said would factor into the decision for the final receiver spots.
Hill’s late push earns him a spot: Holton Hill, Minnesota’s top undrafted free agent, struggled throughout much of the preseason, but a big performance in the final game against Tennessee was enough to get him a spot on the 53-man roster. While Hill is still learning press technique and how to challenge routes, the Vikings hope the player they gave $85,000 ahead of rookie camp will one day pan out as an important contributor for the league’s top defense.
Rookie rushers make the team: Mike Boone and Roc Thomas round out an explosive backfield. The two UDFAs put on an impressive display in their fight to become the No. 3 running back, and it appears that will carry over into the regular season. Their respective skill sets provide Minnesota with multiple options for a change-of-pace back behind Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. Both rookies were used as receivers throughout the preseason, a role all Vikings running backs will be asked to take on this season.
Vikings moves: Released: QB Peter Pujals, RB Mack Brown (injured), RB Kobe McCrary, FB Luke McNitt, WR Jeff Badet, WR Chad Beebe, WR Cayleb Jones, WR Tavarres King (injured), WR Korey Robertson, WR Jake Wieneke, WR Kendall Wright, TE Blake Bell, TE Tyler Hoppes, C Cornelius Edison, C J.P. Quinn, G Josh Andrews (injured), G Kareem Are, G Colby Gossett, G Kaleb Johnson, T Dieugot Joseph, T Storm Norton, DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE Brian Robison, DE Jonathan Wynn, DT Curtis Cothran, LB Reshard Cliett, LB Garret Dooley, LB Mike Needham, LB Brett Taylor, LB Antwione Williams, CB Craig James, CB Trevon Mathis, CB Horace Richardson, CB Jack Tocho, S Tray Matthews. Reserved/injured: DE Ade Aruna, G Nick Easton, T Cedrick Lang, DE Hercules Mata'afa, TE Josiah Price, FB Johnny Stanton. Reserved/retired: CB Terence Newman. Reserved/suspended: LB Kentrell Brothers.