7 Surprise Cut Candidates for Vikings this Summer

Viking Deserves More
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Every year, the Minnesota Vikings (and other teams) make at least one surprising cut, leaving folks scratching their heads.

For example, Armon Watts didn’t make the team in 2022, when many had Watts slated as a starting defensive tackle.

7 Surprise Cut Candidates for Vikings this Summer

So, we asked VikingsTerritory writers who might be the surprise cut(s) this year, and these were the replies.

Note: Lewis Cine was not included in this piece because most expect him to be cut, and, therefore, not a surprise.

1. Kene Nwangwu (RB)

Cut Candidates
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Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

The speedy fourth-year running back has three kick return touchdowns in his career but has struggled to get on the field on offense. The kickoff rules will change in 2024, but the new strategy and approach could actually work against Nwangwu.

2. Akayleb Evans (CB)

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Prediction Maker = Ali Siddiqui

He was inconsistent last year, and the Vikings added some corners via free agency and the draft. Mehki Blackmon should also see more reps this year in year two.

3. Patrick Jones II (OLB)

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Prediction Maker =
Dustin Baker

After adding Jonathan Greenard, Andrew Van Ginkel, Dallas Turner, Jihad Ward, and Gabriel Murphy to the EDGE room this offseason, the joint is crowded with outside linebackers. Jones II was not drafted by the current leadership regime, and someone’s gotta go at EDGE as a roster cut or two.

Jones II will be the odd man out and hit free agency later this summer.

4. NaJee Thompson (S)

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Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

Note: This is not what I want to happen. I think Thompson is excellent and want him to stay so that he can keep being a menace on special teams. But the DB spot is super crowded right now.

5. Ryan Wright (P)

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Prediction Maker = Adam New

Given the nickname “Mr. Wright” by Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels during an impressive rookie season, Ryan Wright found life in the NFL much more difficult in Year 2, and the Vikings brought in Seth Vernon for punting competition. Vernon has a real chance of outing Wright.

6. Jaren Hall (QB)

Could Make Switch
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Prediction Maker = Brevan Bane

It may not be a huge shock, but the shock factor may come more if Minnesota does not bring him back to the practice squad. The Vikings currently have four quarterbacks, with Darnold and McCarthy being the only two sure-fire signal callers making the roster. Between Mullens and Hall, the front office and coaching staff may benefit the former since he has a complete understanding of the offense and has proven that they can at least move the ball when he is under center.

It would be a huge blow if Darnold went down, McCarthy wasn’t ready, and there wasn’t an NFL-ready quarterback left to turn to. This is no slight to Hall, but he’s been a project from the second he was drafted in 2023, and O’Connell will have his full attention on J.J. McCarthy when it comes to molding QBs in 2024.

t7. Andrew Booth (CB)

Fears Confirmed: Vikings Rookie Lost for Season
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Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

The Vikings tried to insert the highly touted rookie into their starting lineup in 2022, but injuries prevented him from competing. In his second season, he was stuck behind fellow sophomore Akayleb Evans, and even rookie Mekhi Blackmon got more playtime.

After two campaigns, he can no longer rely on his draft position to automatically make the 53-man roster, and he faces numerous competitors with Byron Murphy, Shaquill Griffin, rookie Khyree Jackson, Blackmon, and Evans; too many to be part of the roster once Week 1 arrives.

t7. Andrew Booth (CB)

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Prediction Maker = Ted Schwerzler

It shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s on the bubble, but the hope would be that Minnesota could find a trade partner. Let’s assume they don’t, and he gets sent packing anyway.

t7. Andrew Booth (CB)

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Prediction Maker = Wes Johnson

Look, let’s face it: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s first draft class has been underwhelming to this point — especially at the top. This can largely be chalked up to injuries keeping some of those guys off the field, but there comes a time when the rubber meets the road.

Booth will find himself in a dogfight at the DB position and could ultimately find himself off the roster if he doesn’t solidify himself in the top 3. The back half of the DBs will need some versatility on special teams to remain roster-relevant. It’s a big training camp for him.

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 MIN 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 OverTheCap.com.