MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings, who are running out of time before the regular season begins for rehabilitating center Pat Elflein to return, took a step toward protecting themselves by acquiring center Brett Jones in a trade with the New York Giants for a draft pick.
The deal, which is contingent on Jones passing a physical exam, was announced on Sunday. The Vikings didn’t disclose the selection, but NFL Media reported it’s a seventh-round choice in 2019.
The trade was made hours after coach Mike Zimmer said Elflein would not be ready to practice with the team this week, with the second-year starter still working his way back from offseason surgeries on his ankle and shoulder.
“He’s going to practice when he’s ready to go,” Zimmer said. “I don’t know when that’s going to be.”
Elflein was placed on the physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp, but Zimmer said he didn’t believe Elflein would land on the reserve PUP list next weekend when 53-man rosters must be established around the league. In that case, a player must sit out the first six weeks before he can resume practicing or playing.
Elflein was a third-round draft pick out of Ohio State last year. Cornelius Edison has taken his place with the first-team offense for now. Nick Easton took the spot when camp began, but he was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck and scheduled for season-ending surgery. That injury hit doubly hard, because Easton was in line to start at left guard for a second straight year.
Conveniently, Jones made his first career NFL start for the Giants at left guard in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 312-pound Jones started 13 games for the Giants last season at center, but he fell behind Jon Halapio on the depth chart in training camp .
John Greco has played well enough to gain the team’s trust as the backup. So the Giants, who are tight against the cap, dealt Jones and his $2.914 million salary to the Vikings.
“He’s one of my favorite guys, and he’s going to a really good place,” said Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings last year. “With their situation in the offensive line, he’s going to have a chance to compete to maybe be their starter.”
Jones was actually pulled off the practice field on Sunday when the trade was made.
“We’re going to make decisions based on what’s best for our team,” Shurmur said. “I like all the players that we have out here, and I want them all to have success.”
Jones, a native of Canada who attended Regina University in Saskatchewan, was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman award winner in 2014, his second season with the Calgary Stampeders. He signed with the Giants in 2015.
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