5 Vikings Starters in Jeopardy of Losing Jobs
Every year NFL teams replace starters. The Vikings already released Eric Kendricks, who will most likely be succeeded by 2022 rookie Brian Asamoah. Byron Murphy will take over the CB1 duties after the departure of Patrick Peterson, and Alexander Mattison is the new top running back sans Dalvin Cook.
5 Vikings Starters in Jeopardy of Losing Jobs
The departed players have already lost their jobs, but which 2022 Vikings starters still on the roster could be without a starting gig in the upcoming season?
1. Camryn Bynum
The safety is entering his third season with the Vikings but faces heavy competition. It will be another year of first-rounder Lewis Cine attempting to take over as the franchise’s future in the defensive backfield. A wildcard to claim the starting role is Josh Metellus, possibly the most versatile player on the team. His coaches raved about him.
Bynum won the starting gig in last year’s training camp despite Cine’s draft status. He struggled at times, and Cine is certainly a more talented player. However, his starting experience could be an advantage for him. The race is wide open and depends on Cine’s development.
2. Greg Joseph
Joseph has been the Vikings’ kicker in the last two seasons, but his performances were a mixed bag. He hit 83.1% of his field goals over the last two campaigns and only 88.4% of extra points – he was among the worst extra points kickers in the league. A point for him is the clutch factor. He hit his last seven game-winning kicks. One of those was the 61-yard field goal to set the franchise record in the last seconds of the game on Christmas Eve against the New York Giants.
The kicker faces new competition out of Georgia. Jack Podlesny signed with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie after winning back-to-back national championships. Podlesny hit 182 of 184 career extra points and 61 of 74 field goals. He led the nation in points last season with 151 and was fifth in 2021. The kicker led the SEC in points in each of the last two seasons. His weakness is leg strength, but he can showcase his skills in training camp and the preseason. Joseph is the favorite to win the job, but crazier things have happened.
3. Jonathan Bullard
The defensive tackle shockingly won a starting job along the defensive line a year ago, making Armon Watts obsolete, who was penciled in as the starter but ended up on the waiver wire. Bullard officially started seven of 12 games in the 2022 season and played 319 snaps on defense. In those snaps, he didn’t do anything crazy. He is just an average player.
That is why he is an underwhelming starter. Harrison Phillips has one starting job locked up, Khyiris Tonga is the favorite for a second, and the third could be Bullard’s. However, his competition is highly motivated. James Lynch is in his contract year, Ross Blacklock must finally show why he was a second-round pick before running out of chances in the league, and rookie Jaquelin Roy already received some snaps with the first team.
4. Jalen Reagor
The punt returner was acquired via trade just before the season began, but he hasn’t really been a good returner for the Vikings. He has also been a disaster on offense and was usurped by rookie Jalen Nailor late in the season. It doesn’t seem like the coaching staff is comfortable running him out there as an offensive player. For that reason, they might want to replace him on special teams to open up a roster spot.
Minnesota added Brandon Powell in free agency, a receiver with return ability and experience. He took a return to the house a couple of years ago when he was on the Rams.
5. Ed Ingram
This one is unlikely to happen, but it is not impossible. The rookie guard was quite frankly terrible in pass protection, and things like stepping on Cousins’ feet hurt the offense. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah didn’t add any new competitors for the guard spots.
It would be one of the tackles, Blake Brandel or Oli Udoh, sliding over to guard or experienced veteran Chris Reed who played well in a couple of games as center in 2022. The Vikings certainly bank on Ingram’s second-year jump, but if that doesn’t happen, he could be on a short leash.
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