When the Minnesota Vikings signed fullback Jerome Felton last offseason, they surely did not expect him to become one of the league’s top lead blockers and help Adrian Peterson approach the NFL’s single-season rushing record in 2012. But that is exactly what Felton did, earning his first career Pro Bowl selection, and he is now slated to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Vikings have made it clear they want Felton back, but he may be down the pecking order among the free agents they want to retain. Right tackle Phil Loadholt is clearly at the top of that list, with linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Erin Henderson perhaps not far behind him if the price is right. According to Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN-Twin Cities, the Vikings have formed a contingency plan if Felton winds up elsewhere when players can officially be signed on Tuesday afternoon.
Tight end Rhett Ellison played just 23.7 percent of Minnesota’s offensive snaps (including the playoffs) as a rookie last season, but he played a variety of different spots and drew praise for his play on special teams. Pro Football Focus.com rated him as the league’s second-best blocking fullback, based on his time lined up in the backfield, but he also saw time as an in-line tight end and as an h-back. For some added perspective, Felton played 37.7 percent of the Vikings’ offensive snaps and was rated the fourth-best blocking fullback in the league by Pro Football Focus.
Felton has expressed interest in staying a Viking, but no one can blame him if he gets a lucrative offer from another team and chooses to move on. If that winds up being the case, Ellison seems to be a capable replacement and it will be interesting to see how he responds to an expanded role. No matter how the situation with Felton turns out, I think the Vikings’ offensive coaches need to find a way to get Ellison on the field more, even it means John Carlson plays less.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.