With the Vikings selecting Jeff Locke in the fifth round of last month's NFL Draft, that basically spelled the end of outspoken punter Chris Kluwe's time in Minnesota. Though Kluwe said he hoped he would get a fair chance to beat out Locke, Minnesota apparently only needed to see Locke perform in a few rookie minicamp practices to determine its next move.
That's what we inferred Monday from these Kluwe tweets (the Vikings have since confirmed the transaction).
So long, Minnesota, and thanks for all the fish!— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) May 6, 2013
Thank you to all the fans, my teammates, and the Wilf family for the past 8.5 years. I wouldn't have traded it for anything.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) May 6, 2013
After Locke was drafted, Kluwe was told by Minnesota management that the move was made for competition purposes. But Kluwe -- who has been outspoken about a number of issues, including his pro-marriage equality views -- feared there was another reason.
“It's a shame that in a league with players given multiple second chances after arrests, including felony arrests, that speaking out on human rights has a chance of getting you cut,” Kluwe told Pro Football Talk recently.
Here's what Vikings general manager Rick Spielman recently told Sports Illustrated's Peter King: "Locke was the top punter in this draft. Some people are trying to play the other angle [the Kluwe-as-distraction angle], but that is totally off-base. That is off the radar. I want Chris, and all of our players, to have freedom of speech. This has nothing to do with Chris' political views."
Later on Monday, the Vikings confirmed the move as Spielman said in a statement, "Chris has meant a great deal to the Vikings both on and off the field in his eight seasons here. He contributed to many victories and we wish Chris and his family the best and thank him for his contributions to the Vikings organization. Out of respect to Chris, we decided to release him now and allow time for him to sign with another team."
One positive way to look at his release in May is that now Kluwe -- who had the best Twitter account from last year -- will have a few months to find another job. And he probably will find one, considering his 39.7 net punt average last year was, by far, the best of his already solid career.