Chris Kluwe says he's joining the Raiders (USA Today Sports Images)
Kluwe, a native of Southern California, is looking forward to playing in his home state.
"I’m excited to be an Oakland Raider and be playing in California," said Kluwe. "Now, my family can actually come to games."
Kluwe spent eight seasons with the Vikings and was scheduled to earn $1.45 million in base salary and bonuses in the final year of his contract. According to Ayanbadejo, Kluwe's deal with the Raiders is for the veteran minimum, which for Kluwe, is $840,000.
The 31-year-old Kluwe had speculated that his release was due, in part, to his vocal support and advocacy for marriage equality, both nationally and in the state of Minnesota. Vikings GM Rick Spielman, who used a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft on punter Jeff Locke, denied that accusation, which he called "off-base". Kluwe finished the 2012 season with the highest net punting average of his career (39.7 yards), but ranked towards the bottom of the league in placing punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line and was one of three regular punters to not have at least one punt of 60 yards.
Kluwe joined first-year player Marquette King and undrafted rookie Bobby Cowan on the Raiders, who lost free agent Shane Lechler to the Houston Texans this offseason. According to Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, the Raiders ranked 31st in special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) last season and their punting unit ranked 31st, as well. Earlier this week, the Raiders took a step towards improving their punt coverage unit by agreeing to terms with Josh Cribbs, a solid return man who had 24 special teams tackles for the Cleveland Browns over the last two seasons.
The Raiders will need to clear a roster spot to officially add Kluwe, which means King, or most likely Cowan, will be released as carrying three punters is not feasible even with a 90-man roster during the offseason.
Off the field, Kluwe returns to California in the same week that Minnesota officially approved a marriage equality bill and at a time where many are awaiting a decision from the United States Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state of California.
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