Vikings’ Hometown Hero Suddenly Retires From NFL

Kevin O'Connell, Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings watches action prior to a game against the Green Bay Packers in January 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings lost one native son this offseason when the team released Adam Thielen. On Thursday, another local product took his leave by another path.

Tight end Ben Ellefson — a native of Hawley, Minnesota — announced his retirement via a prepared statement that ESPN’s Kevin Seifert posted to Twitter on June 1.

“Thank you football, for the people you’ve brought into my life and the opportunities you’ve given me to pursue my dreams to the fullest,” Ellefson wrote. “I’ve been blessed on my path to have people who believed in me, which has drowned out those who doubted. So, thank you believers for the chances you’ve taken on me, helping and supporting me in my drive to give this game all I could and reach my fullest potential. The list is long and I am fortunate.”

The tight end went on to mention that injuries he has sustained during his playing career played a significant role in his decision to retire.

“Everybody’s story is different, and I’m proud to say I’ve given the game of football everything I have,” Ellefson continued. “Injuries are a part of the game and although they are a big reason for me moving on, I am fortunate to be in a spot where I can still walk away from the game as a player, ready to tackle whatever is next in my life.”

Ben Ellefson Suffered Injuries During Both Seasons With Vikings

Ben Ellefson

Courtesy of VikingsFormer Minnesota Vikings tight end Ben Ellefson landed on the injured reserve list in October 2022 after sustaining a groin injury in practice.

Most recently, Ellefson found himself on the injured reserve list (IR) after suffering a groin injury during practice in October of last year. His 2021 campaign was also cut short by both foot and knee injuries.

Ellefson, 26, was an undrafted rookie out of North Dakota State before signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020. He appeared in seven games for the Jaguars and earned four starts that season.

The following year, Ellefson returned home and joined the Vikings. He appeared in nine regular season contests for Minnesota over the past two seasons, starting once.

Ellefson served in more of a run-blocking role as a tight end during his NFL career than as a pass-catcher. However, he did catch all three passes thrown his way last year, gaining 26 yards in the process, per Pro Football Reference.

Ellefson never scored a touchdown as a professional athlete, though he contributed to special teams in all three of his NFL campaigns, tallying 159 combined snaps in that phase of the game during his stints in Jacksonville and Minnesota.

Ben Ellefson’s Retirement Adds Room to Vikings’ Salary Cap

Ben Ellefson

GettyTight end Ben Ellefson (left), formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, celebrates a first-down run with running back Alexander Mattison (right) during a game against the Detroit Lions in October 2021.

Ellefson’s decision to retire won’t have a tremendous impact on the team’s salary cap sheet, but it will make a moderate difference as the Vikings look to clear some space in June.

The tight end signed a one-year deal worth just over $1 million to remain with Minnesota in 2023. The Vikings had $9.6 million in space as of June 1. That number will double, or more, if the team decides to release or trade running back Dalvin Cook.

A post-June 1 release of Cook saves the Vikings $9 million, while trading him saves the franchise $11 million and brings back an asset(s) in return.

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