Veteran defensive end Brian Robison took yesterday’s heart-wrenching playoff loss to the Seahawks harder than most, because at 32, he isn’t sure how many more cracks he will get at a Lombardi Trophy.
“It hurts. As a young guy, you think these opportunities are going to come around all the time just because you’re on a good team. As an older guy, you start to understand that these opportunities come few and far between,” he said. “It’s hard to have put in all the work. A lot of us made personal sacrifices to help the team win this year. Now you’ve got to look forward to a whole ‘nother year before you can get back to that opportunity.”
But it’s fair to wonder whether Robison will get that opportunity here.
Robison has two years left on his contract. But the Vikings, just like most other NFL teams, are always looking to get younger, and third-round pick Danielle Hunter broke out with 4.5 sacks in the second half of the season.
The Vikings could move on from Robison, who has a $5.1 million cap hit for 2016, and give the starting job at left defensive end to Hunter, the NFL’s youngest player in 2015. That would free up $3.1 million in cap space.
Robison, though, said he hopes the Vikings will keep him around.
“I’m going to do everything on my end to hopefully be back next year. But we all know the NFL is a business and we’ve seen a lot of great players and a lot of good players get released and moved from teams,” he said. “But that’s out of my control, man. All I can do is move forward and control what I can control and understand that God has a plan for me.”
While he had just five sacks this season, Robison played better in his second season under coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings used him at both defensive end and as a defensive tackle in pass-rushing situations. Plus, he was one of the leaders on one of the youngest teams in the league.
“I feel good about my season,” said Robison, a nine-year Vikings veteran. “I think [defensive line coach Andre Patterson] has felt good about the way I’ve played this year. I think there’s a lot of things that I did that are going to go under the radar. But I think the coaches are going to see that I helped us win. But at the end of the day, like I said, I understand it’s a business and they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do to move forward.”