Vikings Rumors

Biggest Roster Weakness: NFC North

The 2019 regular season is right around the corner, but every NFL team still has at least one position on its roster that could use improvement. And there’s still plenty of time to address those areas of need! Free agents are readily available on the open market, while preseason trades provide another avenue of player procurement. 19 NFL trades were executed between August 1st and September 1st of 2018, and that number could increase this year.

Let’s take a look at the weakest positional group — and a potential solution — for each NFL club. Today we’ll examine the NFC North:

Chicago Bears

  • Weakness: Kicker. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Cody Parkey finished third-to-last in the NFL with a 76.7% conversion rate in 2018 and had a game-winning kick blocked in the final seconds of the Bears’ Wild Card round loss to the Eagles. Chicago took on more than $5MM in dead money to part ways with Parkey earlier this year, and after the Bears waived Elliot Fry on Sunday, Eddy Pineiro is the only kicker remaining on the club’s roster.
  • Solution: Wait for a kicker to get cut or sign Matt Bryant. The Bears were reportedly in on ex-Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik before the Vikings acquired him for a fifth-round pick, so Chicago is definitely attempting to upgrade its special teams unit. Carolina, for one, has a kicking situation to monitor: veteran Graham Gano can’t get healthy, leaving the door open for Joey Slye to go five-for-five in the preseason. The Bears could target either one of the Panthers’ kickers via trade, or hope that another veteran like Dan Bailey — who could be pushed out of Minnesota by Vedvik — is released. Meanwhile, the 44-year-old Bryant, who converted 95% of his kicks in 2018 (including four-of-five from 50+ yards), is still available on the open market.

Detroit Lions

  • Weakness: Offensive guard. Despite having something of a middling overall roster, the Lions don’t have a ton of true weak areas. Cornerback help could potentially be a focal point, but Detroit might need reinforcements at guard, where none of Graham Glasgow, Kenny Wiggins, or Joe Dahl are all that inspiring. The Lions are expected to use a run-heavy game plan in 2018, and supplementing the middle of their offensive line could help them improve from a No. 20 ranking in Football Outsiders‘ adjusted line yards.
  • Solution: Trade for Joshua Garnett. Like Burns, Garnett is a 2016 first-rounder who hasn’t exactly worked out thus far. The 49ers have already declined Garnett’s fifth-year option for 2020, and he’s not expected to start at guard ahead of Mike Person or Laken Tomlinson. Now 25 years old, Garnett missed the entire 2017 campaign with a knee injury and saw action in only seven games last year as a reserve, but he’s now thought to be fully healthy. The former Stanford Cardinal shouldn’t cost much more than a late-round pick to acquire.

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

  • Weakness: Defensive tackle. Minnesota suffered a substantial loss to its defensive line when it failed to re-sign Sheldon Richardson, whom Pro Football Focus graded as the NFL’s No. 47 interior defender in 2018. To fill the void left by Richardson, the Vikings have reunited with Shamar Stephen, who finished as a bottom-20 defensive tackle in PFF’s rankings. While they have a few recent mid-round picks in reserve (Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes), the Vikings could look to bring in a veteran to pair with starter Linval Joseph.
  • Solution: Sign Corey Liuget. The 2018 season couldn’t have gone much worse for Liuget, as a suspension, pay cut, and season-ending knee injury littered what became a lost campaign. Cut by the Chargers in February, Liguet has since met with the Giants, Seahawks, Jaguars, and Cardinals but has failed to land a new deal. Always a solid run defender, Liuget could also give the Vikings an interior pass-rush boost.

More from this series:

Mike Zimmer Explains Roster Decisions

  • Vikings coach Mike Zimmer explained some of his logic as he settles on a 53-man roster. “I don’t know that we’re real deep in the secondary,” Zimmer said (via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter). “So that might lend itself (to an extra LB). May keep an extra defensive lineman, less in the secondary and maybe keep one less running back. It all will work out.” When it comes to special teams, Tomasson believes the organization will ultimately opt for kicker Dan Bailey and punter Kaare Vedvik.

    [SOURCE LINK]

Latest On Vikings’ Kicking Situation

There is still not much clarity on the Vikings’ kicking situation, as Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune observes. Minnesota, of course, traded a fifth-round pick for Kaare Vedvik on Sunday, which suggests that he is a near lock to make the team. However, kicker Dan Bailey and punter Matt Wile remain on the roster, and head coach Mike Zimmer hasn’t tipped his hand just yet.

As was reported when the Vikings acquired Vedvik, the team could deploy him as both a punter and kicker. Zimmer said, via Courtney Cronin of ESPN.com“[y]eah, if he’s good enough, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But I don’t know. Again, I think everything is a possibility at this point.”

All three players are expected to see action in Minnesota’s second preseason contest on Sunday. Bailey has responded well to the increased pressure from Vedvik, as he nailed all seven of his attempts in Tuesday’s practice, including a 54-yarder. That was the first time he had been perfect in drills since training camp opened.

Wile, the team’s ordinary holder, cannot serve in that capacity for the time being, as he sliced his left thumb during last week’s preseason opener. But Goessling suggests that Wile’s progress as a holder could ultimately determine whether he makes the 53-man roster.

Again, it seems unlikely that Vedvik will be cut, but Bailey’s and Wile’s fates are still very much up in the air.

Vikings’ Laquon Treadwell On Trade Block

In three seasons, Laquon Treadwell has not come especially close to justifying his draft slot (No. 23 overall in 2016), and the Vikings predictably did not pick up the wideout’s fifth-year option in May. As training camp has progressed, Treadwell trade rumors persist.

Believed to be available during the draft, Treadwell is back on the trade block, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Specifically, the emergence of second-year UDFA Chad Beebe has prompted the Vikings to make Treadwell available.

Despite Beebe catching just four passes as a rookie, he and former Broncos backup Jordan Taylor were listed ahead of Treadwell on Minnesota’s initial 2019 depth chart. Although neither Taylor nor Beebe is a sure bet to produce, their depth chart placement is obviously concerning for Treadwell’s 2019 prospects. The former Ole Miss talent has not been able to overcome the slow 40-yard dash time (4.63 seconds) he posted at his pro day, joining receivers Corey Coleman and Josh Doctson as underwhelming out of the 2016 first round. Treadwell finished 2018 with a career-high 35 catches but posted only an 8.6-yard average.

Of Treadwell’s $1.8MM base salary, $1.15MM is guaranteed. The Vikings have both starters, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, now making at least $14MM per year — the first NFL team to have two receivers in this salary bracket. Finding cheap auxiliary help for the veteran-heavy team will continue to be a goal. They just unloaded a fifth-round pick for Kaare Vedvik and perhaps would like to recoup that in a Treadwell trade. The Vikings would likely accept a Day 3 choice for the contract-year receiver, Breer adds.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Also Pursued Kaare Vedvik

It appears three NFC North teams discussed a Kaare Vedvik trade with the Ravens. While the Vikings ended up winning the pursuit, and the Bears were an obvious candidate to acquire a kicker, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets the Packers were also in the mix.

Green Bay is set for a 13th Mason Crosby season, but Vedvik has multiple roles. The Packers have used four punters in the past four seasons, with a different one — Tim Masthay, Jake Schum, Justin Vogel, J.K. Scott — spending a full season in that role. A 2018 fifth-round pick, Scott remains in place as the Packers’ punter. It would have obviously been curious to see the Packers trade a Day 3 choice for another punter.

Crosby, though, has one season (at $4.85MM) remaining on his contract. The career-long Packer made 30 of 37 field goal tries last season; four of those misses came on a rough day in Detroit. The soon-to-be 35-year-old kicker made 5 of 7 of his 50-plus-yard attempts in 2018.

The Vikings sent a fifth-round pick to the Ravens for Vedvik, a Norwegian-born specialist who kicked and punted at Marshall. Vedvik’s time as the Thundering Herd’s punter lasted longer than his stay as their kicker, and John Harbaugh used him in both capacities in the Ravens’ preseason opener last week. It remains unclear how the Vikings will deploy Vedvik.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Cut LS Kevin McDermott

The Vikings will have a new long snapper this season. They informed their snapper of the previous four years, Kevin McDermott, he will be released, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter).

McDermott was signed through the 2020 season, via a 2016 extension, but the Vikings’ offseason changes will lead him elsewhere. Minnesota drafted snapper Austin Cutting in the seventh round, doing so after hiring a new special teams coordinator in Marwan Maalouf.

This news comes hours after the team traded a fifth-round pick to the Ravens for kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik. Now, Vedvik, Dan Bailey and Matt Wile will catch snaps from the same player. McDermott and Cutting had been competing for the gig this offseason. This became a full-on competition in mid-July, when the rookie out of Air Force was cleared to play. The Vikings can turn their attention to their now-intriguing special teams competitions.

The Vikings’ new ST boss advocated for the Cutting pick, per KSTP’s Darren Wolfson (on Twitter), who adds Maalouf would be in favor of starting over completely on special teams. That would help explain the Vedvik deal.

McDermott, 29, played in every Vikings game since the start of the 2015 season. Initially, the UDFA out of UCLA caught on with the 49ers in 2013. He spent seven games with the Ravens in 2014.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/11/19

Here are Sunday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day.

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

  • Signed: WR Deontez Alexander
  • Waived/injured: LB Tre Lamar

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

Vikings To Acquire K Kaare Vedvik From Ravens

The Kaare Vedvik sweepstakes will end with the Ravens sending their backup kicker to the Vikings, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Minnesota will send a 2020 fifth-round pick to Baltimore.

Not previously mentioned as a destination for the suddenly in-demand specialist, the Vikings outflanked a rival that almost certainly was in that mix. The Bears, who have featured one of the more public kicker needs in modern NFL history, were reported to be in the hunt for Vedvik. So were the Jets and two other teams. Instead, Vedvik will wear a slightly different shade of purple soon.

Interestingly, Schefter adds Vedvik could be used as Minnesota’s kicker and punter. Dan Bailey and Matt Wile serve as the Vikings’ incumbents at those roles. It would be obviously unique for a team to use a specialist for both roles in this era. When asked about the trade report Sunday, Mike Zimmer said, “I really like Dan Bailey,” Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.

The Ravens have stashed Vedvik, a 2018 UDFA, for two offseasons and kept him on IR last season in hopes of a future trade. The mid-Day 3 return represents good value for a kicker without any NFL game experience. He did, however, connect on each of his four field goal tries in the Ravens’ preseason opener. This included a 55-yarder.

For the most part, Vedvik only saw action for two seasons at Marshall. He did serve as the Thundering Herd’s kicker and punter in his 2017 senior season, however. The Norwegian-born specialist also began as a punter before seeing action as a kicker. Vedvik was Marshall’s punter for two seasons and made 10 of 16 field goals for the Conference USA program as a senior.

For the Vikings, this represents another fifth-round draft choice used on a kicker. They drafted Daniel Carlson in Round 5 in 2018 but cut him after a woeful performance against the Packers in a Week 2 tie. Bailey became the Vikings’ kicker soon after. The longtime Cowboy made 21 of 28 field goal tries as a Viking, also hitting 30 of 31 PATs. A fourth-year punter, Wile averaged 45.2 yards per boot (14th in the NFL) last season in Minnesota.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/8/19

Today’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

  • Signed: WR Joe Walker
  • Waived/injured: DB Josh Simmons

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: CB Trevon Mathis
  • Waived/injured: RB Ralph Webb

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Signed: OL Salesi Uhatafe
  • Placed on injured reserve: S D’Cota Dixon

Details On CB Bene Benwikere's Contract