Vikings release DE Robison, add retiring CB Newman as coach
By Dave Campbell
AP Pro Football Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The competiveness of the NFL leaves little room for sentiment, not even for the most accomplished, respected or trusted players.
Brian Robison and Terence Newman were the latest reminders of that, left off the regular-season roster by the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday when the deadline for reaching the 53-player limit arrived.
The Vikings released Robison before his 12th season with the team was to begin. Then, they announced that Newman will retire and immediately join the coaching staff — three days before his 40th birthday.
Robison, who’s tied for ninth in Vikings history with 60 career sacks, was the longest-tenured player on the team. Drafted in the fourth round in 2007, he spent six of his 11 years with the Vikings as a full-time starter. Danielle Hunter moved ahead of him on the depth chart in 2017, and for the second straight offseason Robison took a pay cut to return in 2018.
With Stephen Weatherly (third year) and Tashawn Bower (second year) performing well in the preseason as backups to Hunter and Everson Griffen, Robison’s adjusted $1.1 million salary was still too much for the Vikings to carry considering the 35-year-old’s reduced role.
“This one hurts, but it’s not goodbye,” Robison wrote in a thank-you message on his Twitter account . “More like see you later.”
The Vikings felt strongly enough about Robison that they included statements from owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer in their announcement of his release.
“Brian has been one of the best leaders I’ve seen in my career, and I’m happy I got the opportunity to coach him,” Zimmer said. “He’s been such a great player for us and an even better help building the kind of culture we want with this team.”
Newman joined the Vikings in 2015, reuniting with Zimmer after playing for him with Dallas (four seasons) and Cincinnati (two seasons) when Zimmer was the defensive coordinator for those teams. The fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft, Newman has 42 career interceptions, which was the most among active players following the retirement this spring of DeAngelo Hall. With Newman’s announcement, Carolina’s Julius Peppers (age 38) becomes the oldest defensive player in the league.
The Vikings said they’d provide more details on Newman’s role on the coaching staff in the near future. In addition to serving as a valuable mentor to starters Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, Newman stepped in capably in the slot as the nickel cornerback when Mackensie Alexander struggled. The Vikings drafted Mike Hughes in the first round, though, giving them plenty of depth.
Robison and Newman were the only two players older than 30 on the roster. Strong safety Andrew Sendejo (Sept. 9), cornerback/punt returner Marcus Sherels (Sept. 30) and Griffen (Dec. 22) will turn 31 during the season.
The Vikings cut seven wide receivers this weekend, including Chad Beebe, Cayleb Jones and Kendall Wright. Beebe, the son of former Buffalo folk hero Don Beebe, had a standout preseason but was out of action with an injury this week. Jones was charged with domestic assault and two other crimes this week for allegedly shoving his girlfriend during an argument at a hotel. Wright has 339 career catches, after playing his first five seasons in the NFL with Tennessee and last year for Chicago.
The fifth and final wide receiver spot on the team went to Brandon Zylstra, a native of Spicer, Minnesota, who played at NCAA Division III Concordia College and played the last two seasons in the CFL.
The Vikings placed backup linebacker and special teams contributor Kentrell Brothers on the suspended list, for a previously announced punishment from the NFL for violating the performance-enhancing substances policy.
Center Pat Elflein was removed from the physically unable to perform list after being held out for the entire preseason following offseason ankle and shoulder surgeries. If he’s not cleared to play in the season opener on Sept. 9 against San Francisco, either Brett Jones or Danny Isidora will play center. Cornelius Edison, who spent much of training camp as the first team center, was among the players released.