An Army Outsider Has Inside Track to Make Vikings Roster

NCAA Football Army linebacker Andre Carter II. The EDGE rusher joined the Vikings via undrafted free agency on April 29th, 2023. Undrafted in the 2023 NFL Draft. © Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

One unlikely Minnesota Vikings tale ended in March when Adam Thielen trekked to the Carolina Panthers in free agency.

But another might be starting.

An Army Outsider Has Inside Track to Make Vikings Roster

Following the 2023 NFL Draft, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sprinted to the undrafted free-agent wire, capturing 15 players for the 90-man summer roster. Among that colossal list of newcomers, Army’s Andre Carter II, an EDGE rusher, was unearthed and could become a staple of Vikings football in no time.

Danny Wild-USA Today Sports.

Why is Carter on track, unlike most, to possibly make the Vikings roster? Easy — money. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted Tuesday, “One of the biggest commitments ever to an undrafted free agent: The Vikings signed former Army edge Andre Carter II to a deal that includes a $40,000 signing bonus and $300K base salary guarantee. A sign they believe Carter can make the active roster.”

While anything is possible, handing Carter II a sizable sack of cash to be cut in 3.5 months would seem a little backward. So, if one merely follows the money, it’s a safe bet that Carter II will make the 53-man roster or, at least, the practice squad later this summer.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

Carter II was projected as a 4th- or 5th-Round prospect last week, akin to his new teammate Ivan Pace Jr., but both men missed out on a formal draft pick. Instead, they joined the Vikings as UDFAs.

The consensus on Carter II’s lack of draft attention is a bit mysterious, but most believe his size — or perceived lankiness — discouraged general managers from taking the plunge. His strength may need enhancement as an NFL pass rusher, although Army moved Carter II all over the defense.

The Black Knight also garnered attention on Bruce Feldman’s famous Freak List heading into the draft. Feldman wrote about Carter II, “What a gem Army found at Connecticut’s Cheshire Academy in Carter, at the time a two-star tight end prospect. Now a 6-7, 260-pound senior with a 6-10 wingspan, Carter piled up 18.5 TFLs, 15.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2021.”

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports.

“Carter’s length is only more amazing when factoring in that he also blazed a 4.2 in his pro agility test this offseason. Army coaches say that when Carter’s doing change of direction work in the summer, he finishes in the top three with their skill guys. They also say his reaction time and processing speed is unmatched,” Feldman concluded.

For any Carter II action in 2023, he faces an uphill batter for regular season snaps, as the Vikings have a crowded house at outside linebacker. Here’s the lay of the land just days after the draft:

  • OLB1: Danielle Hunter
  • OLB2: Marcus Davenport
  • OLB3: Za’Darius Smith
  • OLB4: D.J. Wonnum
  • OLB5: Patrick Jones
  • OLB6: Luiji Vilain
  • OLB7: Benton Whitley
  • OLB8: Curtis Weaver
  • OLB9: Andre Carter II

About five or six of those men will make the cut late in August.

Yet, per the guaranteed money, along with his lofty upside, Carter II should be on track for some kind of involvement in Minnesota’s 2023-and-beyond plans. He might even make the 53-man roster. So could the aforementioned Pace.

Carter II will turn 23 next month.


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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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