On Monday the Vikings announced they have released veteran P Chris Kluwe.
"Chris has meant a great deal to the Vikings both on and off the field in his eight seasons here," said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman. "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."
Kluwe signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2005, but he didn’t survive the final roster cut and was signed by the Vikings soon after. He spent 8 seasons in Minnesota, and in that time etched his name into the team record book in several game, single-season and career categories. He ranks 1st in team history with a 44.4-yard career gross average and 198 career punts inside the 20, and he ranks 2nd in team history with a 37.3 career net average.
While Kluwe did register a career best 39.7 net average in 2012, that was only good enough to rank 17th in the NFL. The Vikings also ranked just 31st in punts inside the 20 (18) and 20th in gross average (45.0). Kluwe’s totals for punts inside the 20 and opponents fair catches decreased for the 2nd consecutive year. Also, the last time the Vikings ranked in the Top 10 in gross average, net average or punts inside the 20 was 2010 (In20: T-5th; net average: 9th).
Those factors combined with the fact that Kluwe will be 31 and will be entering his 9th season in 2013 led the Vikings to explore the idea of adding competition to the position, similar to what they did a year ago in adding
Locke is a left-footed punter who measures in at 6-0, 209 pounds. His gross average of 44.6 yards ranks 2nd in UCLA history, and in addition to punting Locke also handled kickoff duties, registering a touchback on 46.6% of his kicks. Locke led the PAC-12 in punting average as a sophomore, punts inside the 20 (34) as a senior and touchbacks on kickoffs (68) as a senior. He increased his punts inside the 20 every season (18-19-26-34) at UCLA and was considered by many to be the top punting prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.