The Vikings reunited two sets of brothers while adding a crop of undrafted free agents over the weekend.
Defensive back Mar’Sean Diggs (Alabama-Birmingham) and defensive tackle Tito Odenigbo (Miami, Fla.) are set to be in town later this week at the team’s rookie mini-camp.
Diggs will be in on a tryout basis, and Odenigbo is one of 10 undrafted free agent signings.
Diggs’ older brother is Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs. Odenigbo is the younger brother of Vikings defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo.
“Words can’t explain my excitement,” Stefon Diggs wrote on Twitter. “I love you. It’s God’s plan, let’s stay on his path. I’m here behind you pushing you every step of the way.”
Also signed as undrafted free agents were quarterback Jake Browning (Washington), receiver Davion Davis (Sam Houston State), defensive back Micah Abernathy (Tennessee), tight end Brandon Dillon (Marian), defensive end Anree Saint-Amour (Georgia Tech), fullback Khari Blasingame (Vanderbilt), receiver Alexander Hollins (Eastern Illinois), center John Keenoy (Western Michigan) and cornerback Nate Meadors (UCLA).
After the Vikings’ 12-man draft haul, 11 spots remained open at the bottom of the roster where General Manager Rick Spielman said he hopes to find value.
“[Doesn’t matter] where you were drafted or if you come in as a college free agent or if you come in as a rookie tryout guy next weekend,” Spielman said. “We’re going to try to find the best players.”
Big money for undrafted QB
Once again, the Vikings paid big to attract highly coveted college free agents. The premier signing must have been Browning, the former Washington quarterback who was guaranteed $140,000 of his salary to come to Minnesota, according to a league source.
It’s nearly double the Vikings’ previous high for an undrafted player — cornerback Holton Hill’s $75,000 last year — under coach Mike Zimmer. The signing at least shows a serious competition behind Kirk Cousins, where Sean Mannion leads for the No. 2 job and Kyle Sloter looks to again make the roster. Browning (6-2, 211 pounds) had one breakout season with 43 touchdown passes in 2016 while throwing to Bengals receiver John Ross, a 2017 first-round pick.
Rookie minicamp invites
Quarterback Sean McGuire (Western Illinois), receiver Kyle Groeneweg (Iowa), receiver Landon Jones (Bemidji State), defensive back John Vogeler (Bemidji State) and linebacker De’Themeyus Barge (South Alabama) received tryout invitations for the Vikings’ three-day rookie minicamp this weekend, according to their schools or agencies.
Tryouts have led to roster spots and even more for current and former Vikings players such as receiver Adam Thielen, punt returner Marcus Sherels and receiver Chad Beebe. Last year, the Vikings invited 31 rookies for the three-day tryouts.
Returning savvy wanted
The Vikings’ two seventh-round receivers, Olabisi Johnson (Colorado State) and Dillon Mitchell (Oregon), arrive with some experience in another area of need. Both returned a handful of punts in college and had seasons averaging more than 8 yards per return.
The Vikings need a new punt returner for the first time in eight years after moving on from Sherels, who signed a one-year deal with the Saints in March. Hill, running back Ameer Abdullah and receiver Brandon Zylstra are also candidates.
“We’re going to have a couple candidates on our roster right now,” Spielman said. “That’s another reason why they had some value for us.”
AAF signings a factor
A “defensive struggle,” described by the Salt Lake Tribune the next day, ended the Alliance of American Football during one of its last games in March between the Salt Lake Stallions and San Diego Fleet. Vikings assistant GM George Paton was in attendance on a side trip from pro days at Utah and BYU. The game, and league’s folding, are reasons why the Vikings’ undrafted group is smaller than last year (17 signings) and why Spielman could focus draft resources on offense. The Vikings this month signed five former AAF defenders, including three who played on that Saturday night in safety Jordan Martin, linebacker Greer Martini and defensive end Karter Schult.