The Vikings drafted punter Jeff Locke of UCLA with their fifth-round pick Saturday, immediately casting doubt on whether the team plans to keep Chris Kluwe.
The Star Tribune's Tim Youngblood cast a comparison to when the Vikings drafted placekicker Blair Walsh last year to replace Ryan Longwell, while others wondered if Kluwe's outspokenness is a factor. Like this NBC Sports post about Kluwe garnering a fine for a message on his jersey supporting Ray Guy’s Hall of Fame candidacy.
Of course, Kluwe has sounded off on more sensitive issues (and with more sensitive language), and was quick to respond to reports. The Strib's Mark Craig caught Kluwe in an south Minneapolis recording studio, tracking with his band Tripping Icarus.
"Statistically, I'm the best punter the Vikings have ever had," Kluwe tells Craig. And NBC quotes a text sent to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: “I’m looking forward to competing for the Vikings’ punting job, as I would love to spend my entire career here."
Kluwe, who also played for UCLA, tweeted:
Kluwe in his ninth season had a 45.0 gross average,the third-best of his career, while his 39.9 net average was the highest of his career. He's set to be paid $1.45 million next season.
Locke compiled a career 44.23 punting average in his career at UCLA. He led conference punters with 34 punts inside the 20-yard line.