Former Vikings Starter Latches onto Teetering Bucs

Former Vikings Starter Latches onto Teetering Bucs
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

The Tampa Bay Buccanneers have a grimy 7-8 record through 16 weeks but still lead the underwhelming NFC South. If Tom Brady and Co. maintain hold of the division lead, they’ll likely host the Dallas Cowboys in Round of 1 the postseason.

And Tampa Bay bolstered its practice squad on Tuesday, adding former Vikings defender Ifeadi Odenigbo. The Indianapolis Colts stunningly released Odenigbo last week after a game where he notched a blocked punt and sack — against the Vikings.

Former Vikings Starter Latches onto Teetering Bucs

The Buccaneers are the league’s ninth-best team per defensive EPA/Play, and Odenidbo could see some playoff action if injuries beset the defensive line. The ex-Viking is no stranger to playing time and should probably have an active roster spot somewhere in the NFL, not a practice squad assignment.

onto teetering bucs
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

With a Pro Football Focus grade of 49.9 in 2022, the Colts had evidently seen enough, so Odenigbo will now get some run in Tampa Bay. Odenigbo, 28, has played for the Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Vikings, Colts, and Buccaneers. He was without a job about six days after the release by Indianapolis.

The Vikings found Odenigbo in the 7th Round of the 2017 NFL draft from Northwestern. The Vikings had a hot-and-cold relationship with Odenigbo as a younger man, welcoming the defender as a project-type player. Soon after, he underwent a series of releases and signings, compiling a topsy-turvy resume of transactions.

Some Scorched Earth Hits Vikings Community as Longtime Trainer Exits
Ifeadi Odenigbo

Odenigbo made a splash for the Vikings in the 2019 season, posting 7 sacks in an unforeseen manner. He played all 16 games for Minnesota in 2019 — the Vikings team to post a winning record before 2022 — while starting none of the games. Most memorably, Odenigbo scored a defensive touchdown in a rout of the Los Angeles Chargers down the stretch of the 2019 season.

Because Odenigbo performed well in 2019, he got the gig as a starting EDGE rusher for the 2020 Vikings after Minnesota lost Danielle Hunter, the incumbent, to a neck injury. In 15 starts that season, Odenigbo tallied only 3.5 sacks, a scanty mark for a starting EDGE rusher who played almost 70% of defensive snaps.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Odenigbo’s career in Minnesota ceased after the 2020 season, as the Vikings utilized D.J. Wonnum for their “Ifeadi role” in 2021. That season, Odenigbo signed with the aforementioned Browns, probably because of ties to Cleveland with head coach Kevin Stefanski, who ran the Vikings offense in 2019 before taking the big job with the Browns.

With the Browns last season, he posted a PFF 49.6 grade, making a ho-hum case for retention with Cleveland’s front office. Then, Odenigbo landed with the Colts six months ago and stayed for 82% of the season.

Odenigbo has registered 84 total tackles, 37 QB hits, 14 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and of course, the blocked punt against the Vikings in 54 career games.

Odenigbo’s new team, the Buccaneers, hosts the Carolina Panthers this week. The winner takes possession of first place in the NFC South, at least for a week.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).