Vikings Have Yet Another Quiet Roster Battle

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Line ’em up: three-technique defensive tackle, WR3, starting cornerbacks, offensive guard, and in spirit, kicker.

Vikings Have Yet Another Quiet Roster Battle

Those are the Minnesota Vikings’ roster battles next month when training camp gets underway, and thanks to an unsung signing about six weeks ago, another can be added to the docket — punter.

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Minnesota inked veteran punter Seth Vernon right after the 2024 NFL Draft, a challenger to incumbent specialist Ryan Wright. And according to dribblings out of minicamp, which wrapped up on Thursday, Vernon may actually push Wright to the limit or steal his job.

Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer said this week on Access Vikings, “Matt Daniels is talking about how there was a big sophomore slump for Ryan Wright. That’s why they bring in this new punter. And that new punter, he’s got a boot.”

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The Vikings found Wright via undrafted free agency in 2022, and he’s served as the punter ever since. During his first season, Wright wowed fans with his massive leg and seemed on track to hold down punting duties in Minnesota for the long haul.

Krammer added about Vernon, “He has been nailing it. And Ryan Wright hasn’t looked good in some of the open practices. So punter news.”

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Wright’s net yards per punt dipped from 2022 to 2023, checking in at 42.3 two years ago and 41.6 last season. In his first hurrah, he encountered just one touchback, but that number climbed to 7 in 2023. Last year could reasonably be deemed a regression for the young punter. He forced opponents to start inside their own 20-yardline just 28.8% of the time as a sophomore.

So, who’s Vernon? Well, he’s never played in an NFL game, at least not yet. The Atlanta Falcons onboarded the punter in 2022 from undrafted free agency, not unlike Wright in Minnesota. He stayed for the summer before a roster cut in August 2022. Now, he’ll get a prolonged look from the Vikings coaching staff in training camp and the preseason.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports’s Lindsey Young revealed some of Vernon’s stats in April: “As a senior in 2021, he averaged 44.9 yards per punt. He averaged 54.8 yards on six punts in his only game of the 2020 season (remaining games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). In 2019, he averaged 43.2 yards per boot. Over his time at Portland State, Vernon recorded 93 punts with an average of 44.6 yards per kick. He downed 27 punts inside the 20-yard line and recorded 29 punts of 50 or more yards.”

If you’re keeping track at home, Wright might have a slight edge to make the active roster because of incumbency, but based on Krammer’s observations, an honest-to-goodness punter battle is about five weeks away.

Vernon turned 25 in April.

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 Vikings 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