How is Pat Elflein still a member of the Minnesota Vikings?

(Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) Pat Elflein
(Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) Pat Elflein /

The disappointing offensive lineman still has a job with the Minnesota Vikings.

During his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings, it’s safe to say Pat Elflein probably exceeded his expectations. After the Vikings drafted him with a third-round pick in 2017, Elflein was able to win the job in as the team’s starting center, and he ended up starting 14 games during his rookie year.

However, his performance during his last two seasons has left many wondering if he’ll even make Minnesota’s roster in 2020.

After the Vikings decided to use a first-round draft pick on former North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury in 2019, the team gave Elflein a new role as their starting left guard. Things didn’t really end up going in the right direction for Elflein though. Despite starting 15 games for Minnesota last season, he was easily the weakest member of the team’s starting offensive line.

Will Pat Elflein remain a starter for the Minnesota Vikings in 2020?

Heading into his fourth year with the Vikings, Elflein’s status with the team still remains unknown. Most assumed Minnesota would look for someone new to be their starting left guard this offseason, but that didn’t really end up happening.

There are a number of other players on the Vikings’ current roster who could replace Elflein in the starting lineup including Riley Reiff, Dru Samia, Dakota Dozier, Aviante Collins, and Kyle Hinton. However, none of these players really seem like they would be a massive upgrade over Elflein as Minnesota’s starting left guard.

Who really knows though? Maybe one of them could be? It’s hard to imagine many thought Elflein was going to end up playing as poorly as he did in 2019, so the Vikings shouldn’t give up hope on finding a solid replacement just yet.

If Minnesota actually does end up going with someone new to be their starting left guard this year, where does that leave Elflein? Will he remain with the Vikings in 2020 if he’s not a starter?

Currently, it seems safe to predict that Elflein will be on Minnesota’s roster for next season regardless of whether or not he keeps his starting job. As poorly as he played in 2019, he has the versatility to line up as either a guard or a center and he could end up becoming a valuable reserve for the Vikings to use when injuries happen in 2020.

If Minnesota decides they’re better off without him, they would free up around $2.1 million in cap space by releasing him. Even though his price tag for 2020 isn’t really that high, there are a number of better ways the Vikings could use this money if someone else on their roster is able to emerge as more worthy of a spot than Elflein.

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Minnesota not selecting a guard until the last round of this year’s NFL Draft seemed like a good sign for Elfein’s future with the team. However, his spot on the Vikings’ final 2020 roster is far from a guarantee.