Minnesota Vikings fans have spent two months savoring the possibility of a JC Tretter addition to the 2022 depth chart, but the plan has to come to fruition.
Tretter is one of the best pass-blocking centers in the business, so a union with the Vikings, a team that has been plagued with pass-protection issues for four seasons, seems logical. For now, however, it’s not such luck for Tretter.
The demand from Vikings fans stems from outgoing center Garrett Bradbury’s disappointing pass protection over the past three years. Bradbury was drafted with the 18th overall pick — an otherworldly draft stock for a center — but only thrived in the plowing lanes for running backs. His pass blocking is catastrophic. According to Focus on professional footballBradbury’s 2021 pass protection rating of 43.7 ranks third-worst in the NFL among 39 qualifying centers – only surpassed [in a bad way] by Pat Elflein (CAR) and Kyle Fuller (SEA).
Therefore, here is what is obvious at this time about the central position of the Vikings:
- Garrett Bradbury, for three full seasons, struggled tremendously to protect Kirk Cousins.
- JC Tretter was not signed to fix the issue.
This causes the emergence of a dark horse candidate in the center – Chris Reed, a free agent signed from the Indianapolis Colts.
Reed was signed in March by new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, presumably to compete at right guard, his natural position. But now, after the NFL Draft, the Vikings have five men out for a summer RG battle — Jesse Davis, Wyatt Davis, Ed Ingram, Chris Reed and Oli Udoh. It’s a lot.
Maybe the plan is not for Reed to play right guard. Maybe his destiny is to replace Bradbury.
Reed played a few snaps for the Colts in 2021 and excelled in the limited sample size.
Meet Reed PFF resume through six seasons:
2016 = 53.5
2017 = 50.8
2018 = 57.3
2019 = 70.3
2020 = 63.0
2021 = 67.2
The man is a commendable performer in the trenches. It wouldn’t be surprising if Reed-at-center became the plan from the start of its acquisition. It would also explain why Minnesota hasn’t flocked to Tretter’s agent in the past two months.
Reed has the skills to move from place to place on the offensive line. His PFF scores are near-legendary by Vikings OL standards, so it would be odd if Minnesota auditioned him for a few summer months and sent the man packing.
The longer the offseason goes without additional center moves, the more likely Reed was acquired to compete at center.
And, overall, Vikings fans should take comfort in knowing that the new management regime does indeed recognize that the offensive trenches of recent seasons are unsuitable for a football team in contention.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube channel, VikesNow. He host a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, airing every Wednesday with Raun Saw and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).