Luiji Stolen from Vikings

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Yes, you read that right.

The Minnesota Vikings version of Luigi — outside linebacker Luiji Vilain — was stolen from the club,

He isn’t coming back.

Luiji Stolen from Vikings

Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweeted Tuesday, “The Panthers are signing OLB Luiji Vilain from the Vikings practice squad to their 53-man active roster, source tells Bleacher Report. Vilain was elevated to the active roster for last night’s game vs. the 49ers and played a handful of snaps. Now he heads to Carolina.”

Luiji Stolen from Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Vilain immediately joins the Panthers active roster — those are the rules when a team plucks a player from another’s practice squad midseason — and could see more playing than the Vikings provided. Carolina is 0-6 through seven weeks, going nowhere fast, and evidently wanted to try Vilain on for size.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah found Vilain via undrafted free agency last year, the keynote UDFA addition of the cycle. The young defender even made the 2022 roster, a surprising development as many had him pegged for the practice squad last year. This summer, however, Vilain did not make the active roster, instead plopped on the practice squad.

Michigan Wolverines’ Luiji Vilain rushes Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz during the first half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. © Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Vilain tallied 3 tackles, 3 QB hits, and a sack versus the Seattle Seahawks reservist players in this year’s first preseason game, a commendable effort for a player relatively unknown to casual Vikings fans. Minnesota might now need more credible EDGE depth behind Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport, especially because Davenport is on injured reserve.

These are the Vikings outside linebackers as of October 24th:

  • Danielle Hunter
  • Marcus Davenport (IR)
  • D.J. Wonnum
  • Patrick Jones
  • Andre Carter
  • Benton Whitley (PS)
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

The Wake Forest alumnus played 34 defensive snaps for the 2022 Vikings in three games. He was the 2022 version of the Ivan Pace Jr. and rookie defender Andre Carter II, two of the Vikings top UDFAs in 2023. Vilain was marvelous at Wake Forest in 2021, tallying 8 sacks and 9 tackles for loss in 12 games. Before that, he was recruited by and played at Michigan.

Here’s the Panthers pass-rushing corps after the move:

  • Brian Burns
  • Justin Houston
  • DJ Johnson
  • Amare Barno
  • Luiji Vilain
  • Eku Leota (PS)
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Burns has been intermixed in the NFL’s trade rumor mill with the league’s deadline six days away. Adding Vilain may be a sign that Burns could indeed be traded to the highest bidder.

The Panthers also employ three other former Vikings: Ihmir Smith-Marsette (WR), Adam Thielen (WR), and Xavier Woods (S)

Vilain turned 25 in March.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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