It’s official. Veteran fullback Jerome Felton, who helped pave the way for Adrian Peterson’s record season in 2012, has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Vikings and will become an unrestricted free agent.

This, of course, is no surprise. The Vikings have been planning to part ways with Felton, and seeing the writing on the wall, the fullback — well-respected by his teammates and a go-to guy for reporters like us — told Minnesota media that he planned to opt out of his contract at season’s end. He couldn’t officially do that until after the Super Bowl.

This separation makes sense for both sides.

Felton, at 28, still has plenty left in the tank and hopes to land with a team that utilizes a fullback regularly. In 2014, he played just 16.6 of the offensive snaps. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner has sparingly used two-back sets in recent seasons, and the loss of Peterson forced the Vikings to stray away from them even further. Felton, to his credit, kept any frustration with his role out of the newspapers and blogosphere.

The Vikings, meanwhile, will save $2.5 million in salary cap space. The like young fullback Zach Line as a cheaper alternative to Felton, so much that they carried two fullbacks on the roster for most of the 2014 season — something you rarely see teams do nowadays.

Felton joined the Vikings in 2012 and was the lead blocker for Peterson as Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and was named league MVP. Felton was invited to join Peterson at the Pro Bowl.

Felton had a significant role again in 2013, though he only suited up for 13 games.

Then came the coaching change in 2014, with first-year head coach Mike Zimmer hiring Turner to run the offense. Despite statistics that showed how little Turner had been using fullbacks, Turner said he wanted a physical presence at fullback. The Vikings kept Felton, but his small role shrunk even more as the season went on.

In his three seasons in Minnesota, Felton played 45 games for the Vikings, starting 19 of them, and added 27 yards on four carries as a rusher.

And after officially sending in the paperwork to opt out of the final year of his contract, Felton took to Twitter to thank the organization for the memories.

Older Post

Pondering the Vikings' 2015 free agents

Newer Post

Important Vikings offseason dates to remember