Austin Cutting

Vikings Finalize 2019 Draft Class Deals

More clarity arrived regarding Vikings long snapper Austin Cutting‘s status recently, and the seventh-round pick agreed to terms on his rookie deal, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (on Twitter).

Cutting’s commitment to the Air Force Academy had left his status in limbo for a while this offseason, but he has been cleared to play. This marks the last of 2019’s Day 3 draft choices to agree to the terms of his rookie contract. Cutting’s deal is for four years and $2.59MM.

Cutting will serve a two-year military commitment but will be allowed to play for the Vikings, with Tomasson tweeting the arrangement will allow the Air Force product to live in Minnesota during that time. Cutting will serve as a first-year recruiting lieutenant, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic tweets.

It is not a given this year’s No. 250 overall pick will make Minnesota’s roster, despite being the rare long snapper draft choice. Kevin McDermott has served as the Vikings’ deep snapper since 2015. McDermott, 29, is signed through 2020.

Only five draft picks — first-rounders Nick Bosa (49ers), Quinnen Williams (Jets), Daniel Jones (Giants), Brian Burns (Panthers), and second-rounder Deebo Samuel (49ers) — remain unsigned.

Here is the Vikings’ 2019 draft class:

Vikings’ Austin Cutting Cleared To Play

Vikings rookie long snapper Austin Cutting has been cleared to play in the NFL, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Previously, the seventh-round pick’s status was up in the air due to his commitment to the Air Force Academy. 

Cutting, taken with the No. 250 overall pick, is expected to sign a four-year, $2.59MM contract with the team, including a $74K signing bonus. With a deal in hand, he’ll start training camp early next week with the other Vikings rookies.

Unsurprisingly, Cutting was the lone unsigned seventh-round pick in the NFL. Once he signs, there will be just seven stragglers left in the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Military Academies, Cutting, Vikings, AAF, Westerman, Bengals

One of the couple dozen recent draft picks who has yet to sign his rookie deal is Austin Cutting. Cutting, the 250th overall pick of the Vikings, is the only seventh-round pick who hasn’t signed. Cutting is a recent graduate of the Air Force Academy, which is what has been holding things up. Once President Trump took office, his administration overturned an Obama-era rule that permitted recent graduates from pursuing careers as professional athletes before fulfilling their service. Now, the Trump administration has changed its mind, per Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic.

The administration has issued a presidential memorandum that “will essentially reinstate the protocol” Obama established in 2016, per Jhabvala. The rule under Obama was overturned so quickly that it barely had time to take effect. Coaches at the various academies have long argued that it’ll help with recruiting if their athletes can go pro. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said that Cutting will “absolutely” be allowed to play for the Vikings now. It’ll be interesting to see what effect this new policy has on the programs of Navy, Army, and the Air Force moving forward.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Another day, more drama surrounding the collapse of the Alliance of American Football. Since its demise, it’s become clearer and clearer that the ill-fated spring football league was doomed from the start. We’ve heard varying tales of incompetence and mismanagement, and now we have further fireworks. Charlie Ebersol, one of the league’s founders, is firing back at players who filed a class-action lawsuit against him and other founders, saying it was the players who committed fraud, per Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. It’s a bold strategy by Ebersol, who is arguing that players should be “barred from claiming any injuries or damages because such injuries and damages are the sole, direct and proximate result of Plaintiffs’ conduct.” We’ll keep you updated as the lawsuit progresses.
  • The Bengals were dealt a tough blow last week when it was announced Jonah Williams would likely miss the entire 2019 season due to shoulder surgery. Cincinnati was counting on the 11th overall pick to be their starting left tackle, and they’ll now have to slide Cordy Glenn over from left guard in his place. That also means they’ll have to find someone to replace Glenn at left guard. For right now Christian Westerman “appears to be option one” for the role, although there will be a camp battle for starting duties, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic hears. Westerman is a 2016 fifth-round pick who has played sparingly in his three years in the league. He’s only made two starts in his career, both of which came in 2017. It’s not an ideal situation, but Cincy’s offensive line can’t be any worse than it was last year.

NFC Notes: Eagles, McCoy, Vikings, Cardinals

Following Joe Douglas‘s move to the Jets, Andy Weidl has been leading the Eagles‘ scouting department as the director of player personnel, tweets Geoff Mosher of 97.3 ESPN in Jersey. Weidl previously served as Philly’s assistant director of player personnel.

It’s unclear whether Weidl’s new role is on an interim basis or permanent, but it’s obviously that the executive is prepared to take on a bigger role. Further complicating matters is the fact that Weidl could end up joining Douglas in New York.

Lets check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Redskins quarterback Colt McCoy missed his team’s minicamp as he recovered from a leg injury. However, JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington observed that the veteran continued to work with tight end Jordan Reed during the sessions, and the team believes McCoy will be fully ready for training camp. The 32-year-old will be competing with Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins for a starting gig, and perhaps partly due to McCoy’s injury, the head coach has yet to make a decision on who will be the starter. “For me to make a determination on the starting quarterback after minicamp or mandatory camp is just kind of foolish,” Jay Gruden said. “We’ll let these guys continue to play and see which one continues to improve, which one is most consistent throughout the training camp and preseason and we’ll go from there.”
  • The Vikings have a number of competitions on their hands, according to Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. Three-year veteran Kevin McDermott and rookie seventh-rounder Austin Cutting will be going head-to-head for long snapping duties, with only one of the two presumably in line to make the final roster. Meanwhile, the team is expected to host free agent punters Justin Vogel, Shane Tripucka, and “at least one other” on Wednesday. The Vikings are hoping to provide incumbent punter Matt Wile, who struggled as a holder last season, with competition.
  • Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune points to wide receiver as another position battle for the Vikings, as the coaching staff is looking for someone to emerge behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. The team has tried out a number of players in their three-receiver package, including Laquon Treadwell, Jordan Taylor, and Chad Beebe. Rookie Olabisi Johnson and former CFL player Brandon Zylstra also have a chance to play a role.
  • Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley missed the entire 2018 season after suffering a torn ACL, allowing rookie Mason Cole to start all 16 games. Now, heading into 2019, both players are vying for that starting spot, and the veteran player isn’t willing to concede to his younger teammate. “Competition? Is there a competition?” Shipley asked Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic. “I don’t know, you guys tell me. That’s what you keep saying. I’m going in as I’ve got over 100 games played in the NFL, so if they want to give it to someone else, that’s cool, that’s up to them, but I’m going in as the guy. That’s the way I operate.”

Vikings Notes: Rudolph, Cutting, Badet, Kearse

The Vikings made a splash last week in the draft, when they took Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. 50th overall. Smith was considered by many to be the third best tight end in the draft behind the Iowa standouts, and the Vikings are hoping he can turn into a consistent third option behind Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in the future. But the move could have more immediate implications for one current member of the team, tight end Kyle Rudolph. The selection “appeared to foreshadow that Rudolph’s days in Minnesota could be numbered,” writes Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com.

Additionally, sources told Cronin that the Vikings “fielded interest” before and during the draft about a potential trade for Rudolph. We heard in March that the Vikings had asked Rudolph to take a pay cut, but his representatives then pushed back forcefully on that and denied the report. His reps also said at the time that the team had told them Rudolph would be on the roster in 2019, but that’s looking like far from a sure thing now. Last month Albert Breer of SI.com speculated that the Patriots could be interested in adding Rudolph. With New England looking thin at tight end after Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, it wouldn’t be a shocker.

Here’s more from Minnesota:

  • New Vikings long snapper Austin Cutting, a seventh round pick of the team, will report to rookie minicamp but has signed an “injury protection agreement” instead of his rookie contract, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Cutting is an Air Force product, and he’s not signing “out of respect to letting the Air Force eventually give a final decision of if he can play in 2019,” Tomasson writes. Cutting could possibly have to leave the team for two years to fulfill his service requirements, but we won’t know for sure for a little while longer.
  • Receiver Jeff Badet spent last season on the Vikings’ practice squad, and he signed a reserve/futures deal with the team after the season ended. But he almost didn’t end up back with the Vikings, as he was courted by the Jets, according to Tomasson. Minnesota ended up giving the Oklahoma product a $75K bonus to stick around, which swayed him. Badet, an undrafted rookie last year, became the second player to almost defect to the Jets before coming home after Anthony Barr‘s heavily publicized free agency ordeal.
  • The Vikings are looking to convert safety Jayron Kearse to a weakside linebacker this offseason, sources told Tomasson. Kearse was taken by the Vikes in the seventh round back in 2016. A Clemson product, Kearse played linebacker in high school before being switched to safety in college. Kearse played around 20 percent of the Vikings’ defensive snaps last season and was a key player on special teams, so he’s got a significant role. It’ll be interesting to see how his transition turns out.