With the selection of UCLA punter Jeff Locke in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chris Kluwe era as a member of the Minnesota Vikings could come to an end.
Whether you like or dislike Kluwe, he has done everything the team had asked of him—and did it well. His off-field views and activism does not—and should not—have any influence on him potentially being cut.
While you can claim a potential switch as being strictly football related, Kluwe’s drop in numbers from 2012 does not tell the whole story. Kluwe purposely altered his punts to have more hang time and less distance, at the request of the coaching staff. Previous to last season, Kluwe has had a very good career for the Vikings.
The lone argument that somewhat makes sense is that Kluwe is due $1.45 million this season and is set to become a free agent after the season. Locke would be under control for four years at a rookie salary, significantly lower than $1.45 million a season.
One thing that has been overlooked: Kluwe, along with Cullen Loeffler and Blair Walsh, combined to create one of the most successful field goal teams in the past decade. Walsh’s Pro Bowl season, at least in part, can be attributed to this three-man team.
It’s possible that Locke comes in and is just as successful holding for Walsh as Kluwe was, but if Walsh has a drop in numbers next season with a new holder, the team may be regretting the switch.