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Vikings Waive G/C Pat Elfein, Should Cowboys put in a Claim?

A young-yet-experienced offensive lineman just became available in Pat Elfein, a former 3rd-round pick of the Vikings in 2017. Minnesota released Elfein this morning after he returned from an early-season injury. Should the Dallas Cowboys, who’ve struggled with offensive line injuries and depth and year, be interested in Elfein’s services?

Elfein has been a full-time starter since entering the league. He was a college teammate of Ezekiel Elliott, Noah Brown, and a few other Cowboys’ names you know at Ohio State and was starting guard for their 2014 National Championship team.

Pat converted to center in 2016 and was a consensus All-American for the Buckeyes. He was drafted by Minnesota the following year and spent two years at center for the Vikings, then played last year at guard.

Elfein had a solid rookie season, ranking 21st among all NFL centers according to Pro Football Focus, but struggled in 2018. He was moved to guard last year and had some modest improvement but was still a liability in pass protection.

Entering this final year of his rookie contract, Pat started at right guard for the Vikings’ season opener but then suffered a thumb injury in practice the following week. He has been on injured reserve since then and was just activated, but Minnesota has decided to leave rookie Ezra Cleveland in the starting lineup.

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Source: The #Vikings have released G Pat Elflein. The veteran now goes on waivers. Just off IR, he’s healthy now and this gives him the opportunity to get some real playing time elsewhere.

For the Dallas Cowboys, Elfein doesn’t necessarily present an opportunity to upgrade. But his starting experience and versatility as a guard or center could be valuable if Dallas continues to struggle with injuries.

Rookie center Tyler Biadasz, who has taken over as starter since the season began, is expected to miss multiple weeks with a hamstring injury. That’s brought Joe Looney back into the first-team mix and leaves Connor McGovern and Adam Redmond as potential backups.

But what if another injury forces Zack Martin or Connor Williams to miss time? Or what if an injury at offensive tackle pulls one of them to another position?

Pat Elfein may not have been a stalwart for the Vikings but he’s been a starting center and guard for three winnings seasons, a division championship, and two playoff victories during his past three years in Minnesota.

If Dallas were to claim Pat off waivers then they may not face a lot of competition. That’s one silver lining to their current 2-7 record; waiver priority is determined by current NFL standings after Week 3.

The remainder of Elfein’s $2.1 million base salary would be Dallas’ to pay for the second half of 2020, then he would become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Still just 26 years old, Pat Elfein has already played a lot of games in the NFL and been a starter for successful teams. He’s not a star but he may present a better option than some of the journeymen Dallas is currently trying to get through the year with.

Regardless of the reward tut would be a no-risk addition for the Cowboys as they take on the reminder of this challenging 2020 season.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. I think we should put in a claim for him. We need to improve our left guard play . Whether it is this guy or Connor Mcgovern, the Connor Williams experiment has been a failure. He doesn’t have the strength, weight or technique to win the battles in the trenches. Connor Williams should be tried at right tackle.

  2. If he is a fix for now then no. If he is a potential piece for the future then yes. No decisions or acquisitions should be made with the purpose of winning now. Winning now only serves to weaken this team’s chances for the years to come. This season has been lost for some time now. The only way to find meaning now is to allow our young players to get as much playing time as possible so they can be better prepared for next year. Hopefully there will be some positives that will come from playing the young linemen this year when the vets come back next year. The rest of this year is nothing more than training camp for next year.

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