Krammer: Vikings' roster gets even younger after final cuts
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The average age of the Minnesota Vikings' 53-man roster is 25.5 years old, which ranks Minnesota as the fifth-youngest team in the NFL.
The Vikings parted ways with a handful of vested veterans on Saturday as the roster trimmed down from 75, with the most notable cuts being some of the most experienced players on defense.
Safety Chris Crocker (34), defensive tackle Fred Evans (30) and safety Kurt Coleman (26) were all released as the Vikings elect to keep just four safeties from their offseason roster: Harrison Smith, Andrew Sendejo, Robert Blanton and rookie Antone Exum.
Saturday's moves seem to reveal a directive by the Vikings coaching staff to go young, however keeping four safeties could be more temporary than permanent for the 53-man squad.
All except one of the Vikings' 10 draft picks from May made the cut, with the exception being sixth-round pick and cornerback Kendall James. By releasing Evans, the Vikings have shed 24 accumulated seasons of experience wearing purple from their defensive line this offseason with Jared Allen (free agency), Kevin Williams (free agency) and now Evans (cut) gone.
The team also placed 29-year-old Jamarca Sanford on injured reserve as a secondary that once boasted 19 bodies this offseason now has 10 -- with a combined 20 years of NFL experience.
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who signed a three-year, $14.25 million contract in March, is the elder statesman in the secondary with just five NFL seasons under his belt.
Youth doesn't directly result in winning, but in certain cases -- like the Seattle Seahawks, who won the Super Bowl last season with an average age of 25.3 years -- youth can prove to be helpful in staying healthy for the marathon that is the NFL season. The Vikings had the fourth-youngest roster in 2012 when they made the playoffs.
However, it'd be naive to think the waters will remain calm.
The initial wave of cuts makes the most headlines, but a secondary wave hits the NFL on Sunday as teams place waiver claims and then make additional cuts to make room, if awarded said player.
Some positions appear to be a little uneven as the Vikings kept just four safeties and elected to take eight linebackers in Anthony Barr, Chad Greenway, Jasper Brinkley, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges, Brandon Watts, Michael Mauti and Larry Dean on the 53.
Minnesota could be a team looking to make moves at multiple positions; undrafted free agent tackle Austin Wentworth made the cut, but had his struggles during the preseason. One option could be tackle Eric Winston, who was cut by the Seattle Seahawks and played with starting quarterback Matt Cassel in 2012 with the Kansas City Chiefs. Winston was also elected as president of the NFL Player's Association in March.
Early options in the market for DBs include: veteran safety Adrian Wilson, who the Chicago Bears cut earlier this week; cornerback Champ Bailey, who was released by the New Orleans Saints; safety Danieal Manning, released by the Cincinnati Bengals and former Denver Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho.
Keeping Line, Felton
Felton can line up in various spots across offensive formations, making his role as much of an H-back at times as Ellison, however it's assumed Norv Turner's offenses don't use bigger bodies that typically specialize in run blocking as both Felton and Ellison do.
Turner may adapt his offense in Minnesota to work with a pass-catching fullback like Line, but it wouldn't be surprsing to see the team make a move for a tight end like Kellen Davis, who has 40 receptions since 2011 and was cut by the New York Giants on Saturday.