Elite Center Breaks Silence on Vikings ‘Never’ Returning ‘Our Call’

JC Tretter

Getty The Vikings never returned JC Tretter's calls, he said in a recent Sports Illustrated article.

The Minnesota Vikings were on a “short list” of teams a top-five center in JC Tretter was hoping to play for this season.

And amid starting center Garrett Bradbury‘s struggles in training camp, the longtime Cleveland Browns center seemed to make perfect sense, given his pre-existing relationship with first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

However, Tretter remained a free agent throughout the offseason and recently announced his retirement on August 25. He spoke with Sports Illustrated on what he believes to be an ousting of him by the NFL, which included the Vikings going radio silent on him.

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‘Minnesota Never Returned Our Call’

Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated revealed that Tretter had the Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and Vikings at the top of a “short list” of teams he’d like to join after nine seasons with the Browns.

Tretter, 31, was ranked the fifth-best center in the league by Pro Football Focus entering the 2022 season. Despite dealing with knee issues for several seasons, Tretter has never missed a game since he arrived in Cleveland in 2017. Tretter clocked more total snaps than all but two centers during that span.

He grew up a fan of Minnesota and said he “wanted to put a bow on my childhood” by playing for the purple and gold. But, the Vikings never picked up the phone.

“Minnesota never returned our call,” he said.

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NFL Ousting Tretter?

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Courtesy of VikingsVikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a pre-existing relationship with Tretter from his time as a Browns executive.

Minnesota is one of seven teams that didn’t reciprocate any interest to Tretter, who is the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) president.

Four days after Tretter was elected to a second two-year term as president, the Browns released him.

Tretter expected to be signed early in free agency, but his camp’s phone remained silent for the past six months. He told Sports Illustrated that his knee is fully healed. After requiring draining procedures for his knee for the first eight weeks of the 2021 season, Tretter played the remainder of the season without requiring any more procedures. It’s been nine months since his last procedure.

However, no team has even ventured as far as requesting an MRI or physical from Tretter. He believes his role as NFLPA president is the cause for his ousting after organizing several initiatives to promote player health and safety and more guaranteed contracts in the NFL.

“Guys would be like, ‘Oh, like how are your knees doing?’” Tretter said. “And I always said, ‘My NFLPA job is gonna end my career well before my knees end my career.’ ”

Tretter’s agent offered insight into the calls they did receive.

“I got a call in mid-June [from my agent],” Tretter said, “and it was like, ‘I didn’t realize how many people you pissed off.’ ”

The NFL forcing Tretter into early retirement isn’t merely his perspective. One of his former teammates in Cleveland shares a similar belief.

“When you have a guy that’s top-five, top-10 at center in the league and he’s not on a roster, and he’s the NFLPA president … it seems a little suspicious to me,” Browns lineman Joel Bitoni told Cleveland reporters, per Sports Illustrated.

NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy spoke highly of Tretter, calling him “a relentless and passionate advocate for all NFL players.” Asked to speak upon Tretter’s lengthy free agency, McCarthy told Sports Illustrated, “JC is a free agent eligible to sign with any team. We would refer you to the clubs for any comment.”

The Vikings declined to comment; the Panthers and Cowboys did not respond, Sports Illustrated said.

KAM Falling in Line With NFL?

Landing his first job as a general manager, Adofo-Mensah, 40, is still one of the league’s youngest executives at the forefront of a franchise.

If the league is indeed blackballing Tretter, there would be few moves more detrimental to Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings’ future than making a move for Tretter.

His relationships with other general managers and owners are still in their infancy. A move like signing Tretter would possibly sever certain connections and nix the possibility of making deals in the future.

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