Eric Wilson

Vikings Place Second-Round Tender On LB Eric Wilson

The Vikings aren’t going to let Eric Wilson get poached in free agency. Minnesota has tendered the restricted free agent at the second-round level, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).

As Tomasson notes, the second-round tender is going to be worth a little bit over $3.1MM for 2020. The move ensures that if any team signs Wilson to an offer sheet and the Vikings decline to match, they’d get that team’s second-round pick in return. Wilson has been a solid contributor the past two seasons, but it’s extremely unlikely any team would give up that kind of pick for him, so he’ll almost certainly be back in Minnesota next season.

The Cincinnati product signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent back in 2017, and mostly played on special teams as a rookie. He has since become a nice diamond in the rough find, starting ten games over the past two years and playing a big role on defense.

This past year he played around 35 percent of the defensive snaps while still playing a lot on special teams. He made six starts and racked up 62 tackles and three sacks. The original-round tender is projected to be a little over $2.1MM but since he was undrafted the Vikings wouldn’t have gotten any compensation had he left in that scenario, so they decided to pony up and pay the extra $1MM to make sure he stays put.

Vikings Place LB Ben Gedeon On IR

Ben Gedeon‘s second concussion this season led to the Vikings shutting him down. Minnesota placed the starting linebacker on IR Monday and replaced him on the roster with practice squad wide receiver Alexander Hollins.

The Vikings ruled out Adam Thielen for Week 13, so Hollins will give them four healthy wideouts tonight against the Seahawks.

While Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks operate as the Vikings’ three-down linebackers, Gedeon has been a two-season starter. The 2017 fourth-round pick has started 22 games since his rookie year, helping balance out the Vikings’ veteran-heavy defense with a rookie contract. He’s been a starter in name only this season, playing only 102 snaps.

Gedeon’s second concussion occurred against the Broncos in Week 11. After a 53-tackle 2018, Gedeon finished with just 11 this season. This will move Eric Wilson¬†(172 snaps this season) into Minnesota’s starting lineup, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Bellore

This Bills regime souring on Doug Whaley second-round pick Shaq Lawson could open the door to interesting trade talks as the season approaches. Still just 23, Lawson was a highly touted prospect at Clemson, which has produced some standout edge defenders in recent years. The Bears would be a reasonable landing spot for Lawson, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Mostly going on Vic Fangio‘s ability to coax quality play from defenders, Walton writes Lawson would be an intriguing buy-low bet. He has two years remaining on his contract, and the Bears are somewhat thin on the edge behind Leonard Floyd. Lawson, though, has struggled as an NFLer in both the 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. Last season, Pro Football Focus did not view him as a strong pass rusher but did grade him as one of the better run defenders on the edge.

Here’s the latest from the NFC North, shifting to the Vikings’ linebacker situation.

  • Ben Gedeon may not be a lock to start in Vikings base sets alongside Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks. Instead, second-year UDFA Eric Wilson looked like an improved player this offseason and ready to push Gedeon for the weakside linebacker job, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes. A 2017 fourth-rounder, Gedeon started nine games last season and played 272 snaps. Wilson did not play any despite seeing special teams action in all 16 regular-season games, but Krammer notes this will be a position battle in training camp. Wilson exceeded 100 tackles in each of his final two college seasons at Cincinnati.
  • Nick Bellore started two games at linebacker for the 2017 Lions¬†and served as a 10-game starter for the 2016 49ers. But this season, he will be lining up at a new position. Bellore is now working as a fullback, and the team’s top one at that, Chris Burke of The Athletic notes (subscription required). He saw some action as a fullback last season but spent most of his time on special teams and as a part-time ‘backer. However, Detroit’s moved him to fullback full-time this offseason, per Burke, who adds the Jets tried to do this with Bellore previously. The Lions re-signed the 29-year-old fullback convert in March.
  • While Martellus Bennett received plenty of hype after joining the Packers last year, Rob Demovsky of views Jimmy Graham as a better fit in Green Bay’s offense, adding the addition of the former Saints and Seahawks tight end is a “significant upgrade.” At the very least, the 31-year-old pass-catcher gives Aaron Rodgers a lethal red zone presence. Graham’s yards-per-catch average plummeted from 14.2 in 2016 to 9.1 last season, but he scored 10 touchdowns — by far his most in a season in Seattle.

Vikings Add 13 UDFAs

The Vikings have agreed to contracts with 13 undrafted free agents, reports Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Here’s the list:

Bower ($45K) and Bradley ($40K) received the largest financial commitments of the bunch, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Bower set personal bests in tackles (34), tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (four) last season. Bradley was more productive than Bower, albeit against inferior competition, with 64 tackles, 15.5 for loss, and 8.5 sacks in 2016.