Vikings Release Right Guard Josh Kline
The Vikings have released starting right guard Josh Kline, they announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The team "talked with Kline about restructuring his deal to stay, but the two sides couldn't find common ground," according to Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune.
This is a fairly stunning move that makes you wonder if a corresponding move will be announced soon. Kline was signed to a three-year, $15.5 million deal in free agency last offseason, and was very solid in year one with the Vikings. His 69.1 PFF grade was tied for 25th-best out of 80 qualifying guards, and he was far better in pass protection than left guard Pat Elflein.
All offseason, the conversation had centered around how the Vikings could replace Elflein, who struggled mightily after converting from center last season. Instead, it's Kline who gets released. Again, we'll have to wait and see if there is another move coming soon.
What makes this surprising – beyond the above-average level of play Kline showed last season and during previous stints with the Patriots and Titans – is that releasing him doesn't create much cap room for the Vikings. It clears up about $1.6 million in cap space, but the Vikings are forced to eat nearly $4.5 million in dead cap. A team that usually avoids dead money now has over $22 million of it on the books, the fifth-most in the league.
Now the Vikings have holes at both guard spots. They could bring back Elflein, but he hasn't shown the ability to block interior pass-rushers at a sufficient level during his career. 2019 fourth-rounder Dru Samia essentially "redshirted" last year and could compete for a starting spot at guard. The Vikings could also look to bring back veteran free agent Dakota Dozier.
But it does seem like there may be another move coming up – perhaps a trade involving Anthony Harris – to bring in a new right guard.
Kline is heading into his eighth year in the NFL in 2020. He spent three years with the Patriots after going undrafted out of Kent State in 2013, and then spent three years with the Titans before signing with Minnesota last offseason. He's now a free agent.
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