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How many Vikings have played last game for team?

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Recent posts by Eric Edholm

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Posted Dec. 30, 2011 @ 12:45 p.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

The list of potential future ex-Vikings is long and distinguished. Such things happen when teams suffer through long, painful seasons and have a number of older players with big contracts or those heading into free agency.

MLB E.J. Henderson looks like one veteran who will not be back. He appears to be a two-down player at this point, has knee problems and is 32 years old with some mileage. Although he still might be able to contribute, it doesn't appear to be in Minnesota, especially if the Vikings change defensive schemes in the offseason.

OLG Steve Hutchinson also might have played his final game, maybe in his career. After being one of the NFL's best iron men the past decade, Hutchinson has ended his season on injured reserve for the second season in a row. It has been speculated that he will retire — either after this season or in 2012. He has one year left on his contract after this one.

The Vikings could have two new starting guards next season if Anthony Herrera is not back. Joe Berger has filled in for him ably, and sixth-round rookie Brandon Fusco has shown brief flashes of power and skill.

Tight end will look different. We know Jim Kleinsasser is retiring, and he will leave a leadership void. But Visanthe Shiancoe also could be gone. He has been phased out of the offense more as the season has gone on, and it would make sense to turn to Kyle Rudolph as the primary receiver at the position based on what he has shown so far, albeit in limited chances, given all the changes at quarterback.

Other names to consider: Cedric Griffin, Antoine Winfield and Kevin Williams. Making that much change on defense could lead to some shockingly bad results early. Griffin has played better lately and has three more years left on his deal. Keeping Winfield and Williams for another year could make sense in a transition period.

There will be changes with the Vikings, many with big names and big contracts. This team is heading toward youth very quickly.

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