When Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman joined PFT Live last Tuesday, he said that he’d met with incumbent punter Chris Kluwe the prior day — and that they’ll meet again on Monday, after the team’s rookie minicamp.
The news suggested that the Vikings will cut Kluwe on Monday, barring an abysmal performance from Jeff Locke. Kluwe has since acknowledged that the team told him that, by Monday, he’ll know whether he’s being released.
Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star Tribune believes that the move will be based at least in part on Kluwe’s willingness to speak out, even though the team has aggressively denied having any motivation unrelated to football. The fact is that the Vikings, like any NFL team, have the right to opt for a punter who is younger, cheaper, and quieter. Football teams want the focus to be on the team, not on any one individual. For punters, who play one of the truly interchangeable positions in pro football, there’s a potential risk that comes from being too conspicuous.
Kluwe is smart enough to know it, and confident enough not to care. If the Vikings don’t want him, he believes someone else will.
Here’s hoping he’s right. While “only” a punter, Kluwe adds value to a football team, and to the community in which it’s based. In Minnesota, the die has been cast via the use of a fifth-round pick on Locke. Other teams haven’t made that investment, and other teams could use an upgrade at the position.