The NY Jets have claimed experienced offensive lineman Pat Elflein off waivers.
As first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Elflein will be headed to the Jets after being released by the Vikings a couple of days ago. And as far as waiver claims go, Elflein is certainly more experienced than most.
A third-round pick of the Vikings back in 2017, Elflein started the first two years of his career at center. Minnesota was impressed by his play as a rookie as his 66.6 Pro Football Focus grade ranked 21st of all qualified centers.
For a third-round rookie, that’s not bad at all and the Vikings believed that they found their long-term starting center. Unfortunately, his sophomore NFL season didn’t bring the same fortunes.
Elflein took a major step back in 2018 and finished as PFF’s worst-ranked center receiving an abysmal 41.9 grade that placed him dead last of 38 qualifiers.
The Vikings decided to draft his replacement, Garrett Bradbury, in the offseason and moved Elflein over to left guard. He would go on to start 15 games in 2019 serving as an average-to-below-average-caliber guard.
Minnesota changed Elflein’s position again in 2020 as the former Ohio State standout was expected to be the team’s starting right guard this season. However, he injured his thumb in Week 1 and was subsequently placed on injured reserve.
Once he returned from IR, the Vikings surprisingly decided to release Elflein as opposed to keeping him as extra depth. His release was prompted by the play of younger players such as Dru Samia and Ezra Cleveland who filled in while he was out.
Pat Elflein was a worthy waiver-wire pickup for the NY Jets
But with 43 games of starting experience under his belt, Elflein was certainly a popular name on the waiver wire. The Baltimore Ravens, Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, and Jacksonville Jaguars all placed claims on Elflein.
But since the Jets had waiver priority, they were able to land him.
Elflein is on the final year of his rookie contract meaning that he’ll essentially be given a seven-game audition with the Jets. There’s a chance he could be given a shot in the starting lineup if Alex Lewis or Greg Van Roten continues to struggle.
At the very least, he should serve as an upgrade over Josh Andrews as the team’s primary reserve center/guard.
Certainly a worthy waiver-wire gamble in the form of a player with plenty of starting experience.