The clock is ticking on Punter Chris Kluwe. At one time, he was one of the premier punters in the league, but lately his numbers have been sliding. Last year, he was in the bottom half of the league in average net yards per punt, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg with Kluwe. His off the field activities have many believing he is a distraction to the team and that his mind isn’t in the game.
This offseason, the Vikings signed Free Agent Punter T.J. Conley to compete with him during training camp. It was expected that the Vikings would bring in competition for Kluwe and the Conley filled that hole. Conley was a free agent signed by the Vikings from the New York Jets. It was believed he would enter camp as the primary competition to Kluwe to push him to focus and win the job from Conley.
During the Vikings prep work for the Draft, they brought in a couple Punters to work out. Brad Wing from LSU and Jeff Locke from UCLA were two of the players that Minnesota took a look at.
Then the surprise came. In the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected Punter Jeff Locke from UCLA. Locke is known for his left footed punting as well as his unique combination of power and accuracy. With many other options available to the Vikings at this early point in the draft, they chose to address the Punter position.
With Kluwe scheduled to make $1.45 million this year and Conley slated to make $480,000, the real reason for this move may be the salary cap. At the moment, the Vikings will be cutting it very closely financially when signing their drafted players to new contracts. Drafting Jeff Locke and cutting Chris Kluwe and T.J. Conley will save the team approximately $1.5 million against the salary cap and allow a lot more breathing room or possibly allow the Vikings to pursue another free agent to bring in for training camp.
While many fans love Chris Kluwe, his stand on politics, and the music his band “Tripping Icarus” makes, people should prepare themselves for the Minnesota Vikings to move on this year without him.