Elite Pass Blocker Has Vikings on His ‘Short List’ in Free Agency: Report

JC Tretter

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Center JC Tretter #64 and offensive tackle Jedrick Wills #71 celebrate with running back D'Ernest Johnson #30 of the Cleveland Browns after a first down against the Denver Broncos on October 21, 2021.

The Minnesota Vikings‘ new regime made their intentions clear this offseason — they’re ready to win now with the existing pieces on the roster.

Minnesota brought back most of its veteran talent and reinforced the defense through free agency and the draft.

But the new regime has yet to address an area that has plagued the team for years on the interior offensive line.

Meanwhile, an elite pass-blocker remains a free agent and has expressed interest in joining the Vikings.

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J.C. Tretter Has Vikings on His ‘Short List’

SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad reported on May 12 that longtime Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter has an interest in Minnesota.

“It remains to be seen if the Vikings will reach out to JC Tretter, but the veteran center is definitely interested in playing for the Purple,” Zulgad wrote. “Phil Mackey, my co-host on Mackey & Judd on SKOR North, reported Thursday that the Vikings are on Tretter’s “short list” of teams he would be interested in signing with after being released last March by the Cleveland Browns.”

Tretter, 31, battled knee injuries last but managed to post the second-highest Pro Football Focus (PFF) pass-blocking grade of 83.7 last season. Tretter gave up one sack and was called for five penalties. He’s missed just one game in the past five seasons, with his only absence due to COVID-19.

Tretter has a relationship with Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who spent the past two seasons as the Browns’ vice president of football operations. Tretter is the president of the NFL Players Association as one of the league’s most well-respected players.

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An Immediate Upgrade at Center

The dilemma facing Minnesota potentially signing Tretter is what to do with presumptive starting center Garrett Bradbury.

The 18th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Bradbury is entering the final year of his rookie contract after Minnesota did not exercise his fifth-year option. In 2021, Tretter was the seventh-best center in the league with a 78.7 offensive PFF grade. Bradbury ranked 46th with a 60.2 PFF grade.

The new regime may want to give Bradbury a chance under a new culture and coaching staff, however, Tretter presents an immediate upgrade in both ability and leadership. There may also already be a center competition at training camp with free-agent addition Chris Reed signed this offseason.

The Vikings offensive line has three proven pieces in right tackle Brian O’Neill, left tackle Christian Darrisaw and left guard Ezra Cleveland. Second-round pick Ed Ingram will compete for the starting role at right guard, most likely with Reed and former Miami Dolphins guard Jesse Davis.

Minnesota’s offensive moved up two spots in Pro Football Focus’ 2021 end-of-season rankings, ranking 23rd in the league. The Vikings’ offensive front has been built over the past five years to run the ball effectively but has struggled in pass protection — an area that Tretter could help remedy.

“The tackles (O’Neill and Darrisaw) were the two best-graded members of the line, and the only two above 70.0 overall,” PFF lead analyst Sam Monson wrote. “O’Neill was the lone Vikings lineman to play snaps this season who earned a pass-blocking grade above 65.0, and that is where Minnesota’s biggest area to target improvement needs to be.”

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JR & The Boys
JR & The Boys
4 months ago

Who cares what happens to Bradbury….. 3yrs is plenty of time.

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