On Saturday, the Vikings devoted a fifth-round pick to a punter. On Sunday, their current punter, Chris Kluwe, suggested that the move may be connected to his off-field support for causes like same-sex marriage.
Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman joined PFT Live on Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics, including Kluwe’s status and the possible connection between the drafting of a punter and the desire to avoid distractions.
“That has absolutely nothing to do with our decision,” Spielman said, “and I did meet with Chris Kluwe [Monday] and actually told him that our ownership had supported him on this. If he wants to go out and speak for what his beliefs are we’re all for the right of the First Amendment and free speech and I told Chris and emphasized that to Chris [Monday].
“My job is to make the best football decisions for our organization, and when we drafted Locke we knew there was going to be some controversy, is Kluwe going to be here, not be here. We’re basing this purely off of football only and I think Chris truly understands that especially after I did speak with him again [Monday] about that. What I also told Chris was we’ll go through [a rookie minicamp] this weekend to kind of see where we’re at and then I’ll meet with him on Monday and we’ll go forward from there.”
That last part suggests that, if the Vikings believe based on the upcoming rookie minicamp that Locke can get the job done, the Vikings possibly will accelerate the timetable for making a decision as to Kluwe’s future. If the final decision won’t be made until after Kluwe and Locke have a chance to compete in training camp and the preseason, there’s no reason for Spielman and Kluwe to reconvene on Monday.
Still, Spielman was adamant that, if Kluwe goes, it will have nothing to do with his support for same-sex marriage or his expression of concern that he could be cut because of it.
“That’s Chris’s right and his prerogative but I can truly tell you from Leslie Frazier, from myself, from our ownership, that has absolutely, 100 percent, nothing to do with the decision that we are going to make,” Spielman said. “I mean we are looking at football decisions and we’re also looking at [the fact that] we’ve got one more year in the Metrodome, potentially the next two years are going to be, we’re going to be playing outdoors. So everything that we’re basing whether its Chris Kluwe or any of our players, we’re basing them purely off of what is the best 53-man roster we can put on the field on opening day.”
It doesn’t sound good for Kluwe. Then again, it didn’t sound good for Kluwe the moment the Vikings used a fifth-round pick on a punter. Just like it didn’t look good last year for Ryan Longwell the moment the Vikings used a sixth-round pick on a kicker.
Lonwell was cut the Monday after the 2012 post-draft rookie minicamp concluded. It looks like the same thing will be happening to Kluwe, unless Locke tears an ACL this weekend or launches a variety of shanks and/or ducks and/or line drives.