Alex Boone was a big splash in free agency for the Minnesota Vikings in 2016, but the guard didn’t quite work out the way the franchise hoped he would.
Since the conclusion of the 4th pre-season game on Thursday evening, the Minnesota Vikings have been working tirelessly to construct their ideal 53 man roster by Saturday’s deadline. So far the majority of the cuts have been expected, however the release of Alex Boone, as first reported by Tom Pelissero, comes as the first major surprise from the Vikings’ front office.
Boone signed for Minnesota from the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and as a highly rated veteran was expected to help solidify a young offensive line. Unfortunately as we all know things didn’t go to plan for that unit last season and Boone contributed to what was generally considered one of the NFL’s worst performing offensive lines in both pass protection and run blocking. Whilst Boone certainly wasn’t the worst player in the Vikings’ front five he certainly failed to live up to expectations.
Despite Boone’s struggles in his first year he entered training camp entrenched as the team’s starting left guard as the Viking’s looked to rediscover their blocking prowess. His security was further solidified due to his $3.4 million guaranteed salary for the upcoming season making his release an expensive proposition.
Boone’s quest to secure his starting role was interrupted by a mid-training camp knee injury which may have proven to be his downfall as it opened the door for younger players to gain first team reps. Nick Easton and Pat Elflein entered training camp expecting to compete with each other for the vacant starting center role but they clearly impressed the coaching staff to the extent that Boone became expendable.
Despite the youngsters promising preseason play, not many observers would have foreseen Boone’s release. At the very least he could have served as an experienced back up, albeit an expensive one. Going forward the Vikings are expected to line up on week 1 with the line of Reiff, Easton, Elflein, Berger and Remmers.
Due to the many offensive lines throughout the league in need of strengthening Boone is unlikely to be unemployed for long but he will undoubtedly go down in Minnesota Vikings lore as one of their more expensive free agency busts.