Vikings Make Shocking Cut — and Pull off Trade

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Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Armon Watts (96) lines up against San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Jordan Mills (50) during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Cut down day is the day to make shocking moves. However, the Vikings roster didn’t allow any shocking moves. Some teams waive underachieving players on big contracts, but the Vikings don’t have something like that. Some moves were slight surprises, but even those were expected by many.

Kellen Mond, for example, was waived by the Vikings just 16 months after selecting the passer in the third round. Most fans expected it after his struggles in training camp and preseason.

The big news today, however, is that the Vikings waived defensive tackle Armon Watts.

The defensive tackle enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 and was in line to start in 2022, especially after the switch to a 3-4 defense.

In 2021, Watts recorded five sacks and was one of the bigger threats in the passing game compared to the struggling play of the defensive ends.

So, the Vikings reportedly agreed to a trade, bringing in Texans defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.

He was the 40th overall pick just two years ago. He could have a lot of potential left, as he was a great player in college for TCU.

Jan 2, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Eli Mitchell (25) runs past Houston Texans defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In the NFL, so far, he hasn’t been great. He appeared in 29 games throughout the last two seasons, including three starts. His stat line shows two sacks and 36 tackles, including three tackles for loss. Blacklock overall appeared on 710 plays on defense. For what it’s worth, Blacklock just turned 24 years old in July.

His cut reportedly left Watts and friends and family in shock.

The other interior defensive linemen on the roster are starters Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips, James Lynch, Esezi Otomewo, and Jonathan Bullard.

Just one day before cutting Watts, the Vikings made news by releasing preseason star T.Y. McGill despite 3.5 sacks in the preseason. Later that day, it became clear that the Vikings placed him on IR. He’s out for the season unless he can reach an injury settlement with the organization. In both cases, he won’t play for the Vikings in 2022.

Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Armon Watts (96) during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

One factor in the shocking moves is money. The Vikings save about $1.2 million in cap space. Watts’ excellent play in 2021 increased his salary cap hit and made him expendable this year. An unfortunate event for the defensive tackle.

Watts now has to look for a new team, but he won’t have a problem finding one. A 2019 6th-rounder from Arkansas appeared in 40 games with the Vikings and started ten. He made 90 tackles and seven sacks. His time in Minnesota is over.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt

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