Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vikings waive Erasmus James

Erasmus James was waived by the Vikings Friday after he failed a physical, putting an end to his oft-injured career in purple. I've got a rather unusual perspective on James, having lived in Wisconsin during his college days at U-Dub and seeing him wreak havoc on Big 10 backfields for several years in Madison, including a senior season that saw him rack up 8 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss while leading the Badger defense to a second-best-in-conference 15.4 points per game. I was excited to see the team draft him with its #1 pick in 2005 and hoped that he'd provide that pass rush from the defensive end spot the team had been lacking for years.

Fast forward three years, and the Vikings are still looking for that pass-rushing defensive end (which they may have finally found in Jared Allen). In those three years, James has appeared in just 23 of a possible 48 games, accumulating just 30 tackles and 5.0 sacks. He played in 15 of 16 games as a rookie, but has since missed 24 of 32 games with injuries, leaving the team with little choice but to waive the unreliable defensive end.

While failing his physical may be a clear sign that James cannot overcome his injuries and play at an acceptable level, it would have been nice if the team could have found some way to keep him around, even just as a part-time player. As good as the Vikings' defensive line could be this year -- with Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Brian Robison/Ray Edwards -- the unit's depth has been decimated in the off-season. Kenichi Udeze will sit out the year while battling his leukemia. Darrion Scott was released (and subsequently arrested). Spencer Johnson signed a free-agent contract with the Bills. And now James is out of the picture. The team had better hope for stellar performances from its top players along the line, because the likes of Otis Grigsby, Kenderick Allen, Fred Evans, Jayme Mitchell, and Ellis Wyms don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of offensive linemen.

It's likely that some team will take a shot at James, considering his youth and his standout performances in college. If he can pass a physical, he might find a team willing to take a low-cost chance on a possible third-down rush specialist. That's probably about all he can hope for at this stage of his career, and I wish him luck.

1 comment:

Luft Krigare said...

Erasmus showed signs and all of us were jazzed when the Vikings selected James. Merriman was already selected and James was the best pure DE on the board at the time. But his hold out hurt him. The fight with Chester Taylor didn't endear him to the team, then the untimely injuries. It seems to have reached the point where the Vikings are tired of spending the money and not getting the results.

He did have $7 mil guaranteed so if wise, he will be very comfortable the remainder of his years whether he gets picked up somewhere or not. I will wager a soda that he does and the Jags are the first team that come to mind. Any team that is willing to take a flier on him should be able to get him cheap and then after an evaluation, place him on the PUP and later on IR if necessary, and maybe get lucky getting the DE we thought he would be.