Apparently, Sean Payton and the Broncos Stole a UDFA from the Vikings

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have landed a grand total of 25 players since the 2024 NFL Draft took place.

These players included potential franchise cornerstones on both sides of the field in QB J.J. McCarthy and OLB Dallas Turner. They also inked deals with a couple of very intriguing undrafted free agents like Gabriel Murphy and Bo Richter.

However, the Vikings apparently had one of their targets stolen from them by Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos. That player was LB Levelle Bailey, who Denver signed as an undrafted free agent a couple days ago.

Sean Payton Stole a UDFA from the Vikings

Sean Payton
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Tomasson of the Denver Gazette reported the news this weekend, tweeting, “With #Broncos seeking athletic LB, during 7th round of draft, Sean Payton called Levelle Bailey not once but twice to convince him to sign as undrafted free agent. It worked. Vikings, Bengals & Panthers also wanted Bailey but their head coaches didn’t call.”

Bailey, a produce of Fresno State, played five seasons in the Bulldogs program, playing 58 games and recording 277 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 22 passes defended, six interceptions, five forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.

During the 2023 season, Bailey was one of the best coverage linebackers in all of college football. According to PFF, he was targeted 34 times and allowed 23 receptions for just 187 yards and a single touchdown while he intercepted three passes. His allowed NFL passer rating of 54.4 ranked fifth among all FBS linebackers to play at least 200 coverage snaps.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, it would make sense for the Vikings to be interested in Bailey. They lost Jordan Hicks this offseason as well as depth piece Troy Dye, who had served as Minnesota’s LB3 throughout the majority of his early NFL career after being selected in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

Minnesota did bring in Blake Cashman as another free agency acquisition, but there are some questions in regard to the depth behind the starters Cashman and Ivan Pace.

Considering the amount of success that the Vikings got out of Pace as a UDFA last season, Bailey seems as if he would have been a strong insurance plan in Minnesota just in case either Cashman or Pace would miss a few games.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, Bailey goes to Denver and will help Sean Payton’s defense in a linebacker room that currently holds Cody Barton, Alex Singleton, Drew Sanders, Jonas Griffith, Justin Strnad, and fellow UDFA Alec Mock.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus and Sports Reference CFB.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.