Recapping the Vikings Chaotic Cutdown Day

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Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

No other day in the league year has a comparable number of roster moves. All NFL teams had to go down from 80 players to 53 and release or trade 27. It’s a hard day for front offices, as they have to tell valued members of the team that their tenure in Minnesota is over. Some of them are in jeopardy to continue their careers.

The day is not just hard for executives, coaches, and players. It’s also hard for fans to keep track of all the moves. You can read about the most important moves in this article. A list of the 53-man roster, and every cut, can be found here.

Both Backup QBs Released

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Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings go into the season with Kirk Cousins as the starter and Nick Mullens as the backup. The latter was not on the roster when training camp started. Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion were supposed to compete for the backup job. However, they struggled throughout camp and in the preseason games.

Mannion just doesn’t have the physical tools to lead a successful offense, while Mond is too inconsistent, inaccurate, and struggles at reading defenses. He didn’t take the necessary step forward. The Vikings are in a good spot with Mullens, as teams can do much worse at the backup spot. Both released QBs could return to the practice squad if they clear waivers. That’s likely for Mannion, but some other team will probably pick up Mond and try to fix him.

Shocking Cut

The most surprising cut happened on the defensive line when the Vikings showed starting linemen Armon Watts the door. Watts enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2021 and racked up five sacks. Expectations for 2022 were that he’d slide in as starting tackle next to Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson.

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

The cut saved the Vikings money, as the Vikings got rid of his cap hit of $2.54 million. Unfortunately, his good play in 2021 increased his 2022 salary. In other words, he was cut because he played well. He’ll be replaced by Jonathan Bullard, James Lynch, and Ross Blacklock.

Vikings Pull Off Two Trades

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah facilitated two trades on Tuesday. First, he traded for Ross Blacklock to replace the shockingly released Watts, and later, he sent Jesse Davis to the Steelers.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) prepares to launch a pass under pressure by Houston Texans defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. © Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Blacklock is a defensive lineman and comes over from the Texans. The Vikings also received a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-rounder. Blacklock was a force in college but couldn’t meet expectations in Houston. However, he’s still a former second-round pick entering just his third season. There’s some potential upside for the former 40th overall pick from TCU, as he’s just 24 years old.

The second trade of the day involved guard Jesse Davis. Davis signed with the Vikings to be the new starting right guard, but the Vikings selected Ed Ingram in the second round. Ingram was running away with the job. Therefore, Davis was expendable. The problem was his contract, as a release would’ve cost the Vikings more cap space than to keep him. The Steelers have a struggling offensive line and traded for Davis. Because of the contract situation, the Vikings only get a conditional 2025 seventh-round pick in exchange. The moves saved the Vikings $1.45 million in cap space. Chris Reed and Austin Schlottmann will be the interior backups.

New Regime Doesn’t Care about Draft Position

Rick Spielman had four picks in the third round of the 2021 draft. Adofo-Mensah cut three of them on Tuesday. The aforementioned Kellen Mond, guard Wyatt Davis, and linebacker Chazz Surratt.

Nov 4, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Surratt came into the league as a raw, yet still old for a rookie linebacker and didn’t show enough progression to stay on the Vikings roster.

Davis was supposed to be the savior at right guard, but his game apparently doesn’t translate to the NFL. Once a dominant guard in college, Davis doesn’t even make the 53-man roster 16 months after the draft.

The only third-rounder left is Patrick Jones. He’s competing with D.J. Wonnum for the backup snaps for star edge rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith.

2 Undrafted Rookies Make the Team

Luiji Vilain and Ryan Wright made the 53-man roster. Wright surprisingly beat out the incumbent punter Jordan Berry in a camp competition. In his first game after winning the job, Wright had one of the best punting performances the team has seen in years. He’ll be one of the main attractions of the Vikings, even if he’s ‘just’ a punter.

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Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings outside linebacker Luiji Vilian. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vilain, meanwhile, came into training camp with high expectations. He couldn’t find playing time in Michigan and transferred to Wake Forest. His production exploded. Vilain has great physical tools but is still very inconsistent. It shows how much the Vikings value him that they didn’t release him and tried to sneak him onto the practice squad. He has to improve in some areas but certainly has some potential.

Just 1 Vikings Draft Pick Cut

Adofo-Mensah selected ten draft pick in his first draft in charge. Nine of them made the team. The only exception is Nick Muse, the seventh-round pick. He has a good chance to be part of the practice squad, especially after showing some flashes in the preseason.

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandler (32) celebrates with Minnesota Vikings guard Ed Ingram (67) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Ed Ingram will be the starting right guard, while Andrew Booth and Lewis Cine will be important contributors early in their careers.

Akayleb Evans, Ty Chandler, and Brian Asamoah could also play a role, and both have shown high upside in the preseason.

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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