Vikings Part Ways with Linebacker

Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; The Minnesota Vikings host training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings keep shaking up their 91-man roster in the preseason. They have already cut fullback Zach Ojile, wideouts Cephus Johnson and Malik Knowles, blockers Jacky Chen, Sam Schlueter, and Bobby Evans, cornerback John Reid and kicker Jack Podlesny — all in the last five weeks. Linebacker William Kwenkeu was waived but reverted to Minnesota’s IR.

Vikings Part Ways with Linebacker

Vikings Part Ways With Linebacker
Aug 5, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Curtis Weaver (54) takes the field during training camp at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah had to clear another roster spot after the signing of quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. He waived edge rusher Curtis Weaver as a corresponding move, as the Vikings officially announced on Monday.

Weaver signed a so-called futures contract with the Vikings in January. Those deals start when the new league year kicks off. The defender just turned 25. He was a 2020 fifth-round selection for the Miami Dolphins, but the team waived him with an injury designation in August of his rookie campaign, and the Cleveland Browns claimed his rights on the waiver wire. Because of the injury, he was placed on IR. Interestingly, Adofo-Mensah was Vice President of Football Operations in Cleveland at that time.

Vikings Sign New OLB
Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Feleipe Franks (15) runs away from Cleveland Browns defensive end Curtis Weaver (59) during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

One year later, in his second try to make a team, Weaver was waived on final cutdown day but secured a spot on the practice squad. In Week 18, Weaver made his NFL debut, logging one tackle on six snaps.

Once again, Weaver failed to make the roster in 2022, was released from the practice squad in October, and was a free agent until the Vikings signed him in January.

In the two preseason games with the Vikings, Weaver appeared on 40 defensive plays, and he made a couple of tackles and recorded two QB hurries.

The Vikings now have seven edge rushers left on the roster. Danielle Hunter and Marcus Davenport are the designated starters, leaving D.J. Wonnum and Patrick Jones as the primary backups. All four rested in the second preseason contest, implying they have nothing to prove.

Behind them, the team employs undrafted defender Luiji Vilain in his second season, and he has played remarkably well in the two preseason outings, undrafted rookie Andre Carter and sophomore Benton Whitley. The latter turned some heads against the Titans.

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Esezi Otomewo (90) and cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) and linebacker Luiji Vilain (43) prepare to tackle Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Teams usually keep four or five edge rushers, but it appears to be a strong position for the purple team, making five likely. All three of Carter, Vilain, and Whitley have a case, but Vilain has been the most disruptive player of the group, and he made the roster last season as well.

Quarterback Ta’amu is an interesting player, as he was the XFL’s Offensive Player of the Year. The Vikings have Kirk Cousins rostered as the starter, Nick Mullens is his backup, and rookie Jaren Hall is the developmental guy. Why the team signed another passer this late in the preseason remains to be seen, but he will try to change the rankings in the QB room and sneak onto the roster or the practice squad.

His potential debut in the Vikings uniform could come in the third preseason week against the Arizona Cardinals. The Vikings must trim their roster down to 53 players on August 29th.

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