Former Vikings Starter Heads to Pittsburgh

A Risky Roster Cut and Other Thoughts on Vikings Moves
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings are having a tumultuous offseason, with many players leaving the organization, including some longtime franchise staples. Adam Thielen will suit up for the Carolina Panthers, and Eric Kendricks will play with Justin Herbert for the Chargers. Both were let go for cap-saving reasons.

Dalvin Tomlinson will join former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland after signing a huge contract. The top cornerback of the purple team in the last couple of seasons, Patrick Peterson, will play in the same division for another former Vikings coordinator. He’ll join forces with Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh, and the duo will get another ex-Vikings starter to join them.

Former Vikings Starter Heads to Pittsburgh

Former Vikings Starter Heads to Pittsburgh
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

On Monday, Armon Watts’ agent announced the next destination of his client on Twitter. He will become the latest member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defensive tackle was a 2019 draft selection of former GM Rick Spielman, who found Watts in the sixth round. He then played 40 games for the Vikings, including 10 starts, one in his rookie campaign and nine in 2021 when starter Michael Pierce missed half of the season with an injury.

Watts recorded 90 combined tackles in Minnesota and had 7 sacks. He was expected to be a starting defensive lineman in the new scheme, especially because that scheme required three starting interior linemen. However, Watts was shockingly waived, and the team traded for his replacement, Ross Blacklock.

The move saved the team roughly $1 million in cap space, but it was still a head-scratcher because Watts played quite well when he was given the opportunity. Watts exceeded the expectations of a sixth-rounder in his tenure with the Vikings.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

The Bears picked him up, and he ended up starting 12 games for the division rival in 2022. He appeared in all 17 games while in Minnesota, Jonathan Bullard, Harrison Phillips, and Dalvin Tomlinson started on the defensive line with some spot starts of Khyiris Tonga and James Lynch.

After the departure of Tomlinson, the position group is one of the weakest on the roster. Phillips and Bullard return, and Dean Lowry, a former Packers defender, joined the group. The backups, Blacklock, Lynch, and Esezi Otomewo, stay the same. However, the team must do more things in free agency or the draft to find a difference-maker. They haven’t replaced Tomlinson’s impact.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When the Vikings are on the clock with pick number 23 in the first round of the draft on April 27, defensive tackle prospects Clemson’s Bryan Bresee and Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey should be in play.

In addition to defensive tackle, the Vikings also need to add some talent to the cornerback room and upgrade the wide receiver position. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has to do all of that with just five draft selections and close to no remaining salary cap, which could ultimately lead to the departure of edge rusher Za’Darius Smith and running back Dalvin Cook.


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

Share: