Veteran fullback Jerome Felton, who helped pave the way for running back Adrian Peterson during his record-setting 2012 season, has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Vikings and will become an unrestricted free agent.
After seeing his role shrink in 2014, the 28-year-old said at season’s end that he planned to opt out. The Vikings, meanwhile, had been planning to part ways with Felton and go with a younger and cheaper alternative at the position.
Felton joined the Vikings in 2012 and was Peterson’s lead blocker as the star back rushed for 2,097 yards that season and was named league MVP. Felton joined Peterson at the Pro Bowl after the season and scored a rushing touchdown.
Felton had a significant role again in 2013, but that changed this past season when first-year head coach Mike Zimmer hired Norv Turner as offensive coordinator.
Turner has used fullbacks sparingly in recent seasons, and that trend continued with Felton.
Felton played just 16.6 percent of the offensive snaps, and his role diminished further down the stretch as the Vikings more often used a spread attack with Peterson suspended and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater being forced to shoulder the offense.
In his three seasons in Minnesota, Felton played 45 games, starting 19 of them, and added 27 yards on four carries as a rusher.
After officially sending in the paperwork to opt out of his deal, Felton took to Twitter to thank the organization for the memories.
“Want to thank the Vikings organization for the last three years,” he wrote.
“It’s been a life changing few years, and I have so much respect and Admiration for what they’ve done for my family and myself!
“Vikings fans are some of the best in the league and I want to say thank you for all your support! No doors are closed but I’m excited to see what the future holds!!”
With Felton off the books for 2015, the Vikings have freed up $2.5 million in salary cap space.
The Vikings are fond of young fullback Zach Line, so much so that they carried two fullbacks on the 53-man roster for most of the 2014 season, which is a rarity in today’s NFL.