While the Vikings spend the offseason strategizing how they'll attempt to bounce back from 2016's disappointment, it's safe to observe from afar that their window of contention might be closing.
One Viking has placed a deadline on his own chances.
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Defensive end Brian Robison told the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Friday that he thinks 2018 will be his final season in the NFL.
"I really do believe that probably at the end of those two years, it will be it," Robison told the Pioneer Press. "It'll be about my time to call it (a career), but we'll see how I feel when I get there. ... But I would say that more than likely, that will probably be the time that I'm going to have to lay things to the side and get ready for life after football."
Robison turns 34 in just over a week, and recently restructured his deal to run through 2018. He's played 10 seasons in the NFL, all with the Vikings, and has been part of playoff teams four times, losing three times in the Wild Card round and once in the memorable 2009 NFC title game against New Orleans. He's been a consistent pass rusher off the edge in both good times and bad, compiling 269 tackles and 56 sacks, including a season high of nine sacks in 2013. At 33, Robison's production (28 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles) mirrored most of his career.
If he follows this plan, he'll retire after a dozen seasons in Viking purple and gold. He'll finish among the franchise's top five in career sacks.
But before he bids farewell, Robison will return to a defense that is still among the league's best, especially in the front seven. The unit finished third in the league in total defense (in yards per game). Even with the struggles the offense endured in 2016 (there were plenty), the defense alone should be enough reason to look forward to 2017 and 2018. Robison's deadline will just add to the team's sense of urgency.