The Vikings waived defensive end Erasmus James on Friday afternoon after he failed to pass his physical, according to the team’s website. While another team could claim him off waivers, he likely will clear waivers, at which point the Vikings could release him with an injury settlement.
James had been working his way back from a second torn anterior cruciate ligament tear in consecutive seasons and was limited at the Vikings’ organized team activities this week. He participated in light activities, but never much more than stretching and coming off the line on the snap of the ball. He didn’t participate in team drills.
James was selected 18th overall in the 2005 draft, the Vikings’ second first-round selection after Troy Williamson was their No. 7 overall pick that year. Williamson was traded to Jacksonville for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft.
James entered the 2005 draft with a history of medical issues. He suffered a hip injury in preseason camp in 2003 at Wisconsin and was granted a medical redshirt. After his rookie season with the Vikings, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in the second game of the 2006 season that put him on injured reserve and required surgery. After slowly working his way back during the 2007 season, he suffered another torn ACL in the 11th game of the 2007 season, ending that season with another surgery required.
Last year, after being inactive for six of the first seven weeks while recovering from his 2006 injuries, James played in the next five games before getting injured again in his only start of the 2007 season. He had one sack and 12 tackles during his limited time last year.
In his two-game 2006 season, he had seven tackles (three solo), one tackle for a loss and seven quarterback hurries.
In his rookie season, he was inactive for the season opener vs. Tampa Bay after being diagnosed with symptoms consistent with having mononucleosis. He was active for the remaining 15 games, earning nine starts – starting one game at left defensive end and the final eight games of the season at right end. He finished the season with 28 tackles, one forced fumble and tied for second on the team with four sacks.
For his abbreviated career, he had 51 tackles, five sacks, 25 quarterback hurries, three passes defensed, one forced fumble and four tackles-for-loss. In three seasons, he played in 23 games with 12 starts.
During his time at Wisconsin, James made a successful recovery from a career-threatening hip injury suffered prior to the 2003 season, made the switch to left end, and finished 2004 with 36 tackles, eight sacks, seven QB pressures and 11.5 tackles-for-loss while being limited in three games with an ankle injury. He played right end in 2002, registering four sacks, 17 pressures and 52 tackles, seven for losses, while playing with a sprained knee. He ended his college career at Wisconsin with 124 tackles, 18 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
James was made more expendable with the recent trade for 2007 NFL sacks leader Jared Allen. The Vikings gave up their first-round draft pick, two third-round picks and switched sixth-round picks with Kansas City to acquire Allen, who had 17½ sacks last year and has 43 sacks over his first four NFL seasons.
Ray Edwards is expected to start at left end and Brian Robison will back up Allen at right end, according to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. The Vikings also have Jayme Mitchell and Otis Grigsby as defensive ends, and Ellis Wyms has the versatility to play end and tackle.