Vikings Reunion with Zimmer-Era Defender Is a Little Odd

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The Minnesota Vikings set an initial 53-man roster on Tuesday, filled out a practice squad thereafter, and are now nine days away from the regular season.

Minnesota hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 10th.

Vikings Reunion with Zimmer-Era Defender Is a Little Odd

And as part of the practice squad fulfillment, the Vikings added Mike Zimmer-era linebacker Nick Vigil on Thursday. The 30-year-old is a promotion away from the regular season roster.

Vikings Reunion with
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The New York Jets onboarded Vigil for a summer look in early August but cut ties earlier this week. It didn’t take long for Vigil to find employment with old friends on the Vikings roster.

Vigil last played for the Arizona Cardinals albeit for four games and 84 defensive snaps. He played for the Vikings in 2021, his only season with the club. During that time, Vigil peaked immediately, returning an interception for a touchdown at the Cardinals in Week 2. Vigil felt like a mighty offseason addition late that afternoon, and indeed, he was just that — for a while.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Nick Vigil (57) warms up during an open practice at State Farm Stadium on Saturday, August 6, 2022, in Glendale. © Antranik Tavitian/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Soon after in 2021, Vigil’s performance tumbled, not quite keeping pace with his Week 1 and 2 theatrics. Overall, Vigil finished the 2021 season with a 42.1 grade from Pro Football Focus, the 13th-worst in the NFL among 87 qualifying linebackers. In particular, Vigil struggled with run defense, tallying a measly 30.8 score from PFF.

Now, however, he’ll serve as a depth piece for the 2023 Vikings, beginning his purple sequel on the practice squad. The reunion is a bit odd because, to date, Minnesota’s leadership brand with general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell haven’t fancied Zimmer-era reunions. They didn’t welcome Anthony Barr back in 2022 or 2023, showed no interest in Linval Joseph’s free agency last year, and have generally avoided ex-Vikings personnel.

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Too, Adofo-Mensah has gone out of his way to sculpt the roster in a vision of his own, slicing and dicing aging veterans from the depth chart and offloading most of the 2021 draft class upon his arrival 20 months ago. A reunion with Vigil isn’t bad or silly; it’s just out of character.

For the Cardinals in 2022, in the limited playing time, Vigil tabulated a horrid 28.3 PFF grade before encountering a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Vigil turned 30 a week and a half ago and probably has a few more seasons in the tank — evidently in Minnesota.

Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Nick Vigil (57) stretches during Arizona Cardinals practice at State Farm Stadium on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Glendale. © Antranik Tavitian/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

This is Vigil’s destination resume to date:

  • Cincinnati Bengals (2016–2019)
  • Los Angeles Chargers (2020)
  • Minnesota Vikings (2021)
  • Arizona Cardinals (2022)
  • New York Jets (2023)
  • Minnesota Vikings (2023–present)

He has no previous ties to new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Perhaps a Vikings teammate of Vigil’s from the 2021 season whispered something in Adofo-Mensah’s ear.

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