On the day his newest one-year deal with the Vikings became official, Dan Bailey sounded hopeful about his chances of creating something the team has lacked at the kicker position for some time: stability.
Bailey, who signed with the Vikings in September after Daniel Carlson’s three missed field goals triggered his release following a Week 2 tie in Green Bay, returned to the team this week on a one-year deal worth $1 million, with up to another $1 million in incentives. He made all but one of his extra points last season but missed seven field goals, as the Vikings continued to search for consistency at the position.
Both Bailey and punter Matt Wile — the Vikings’ holder on field goals and extra points last season — were new to the team last year, and essentially had to connect on the fly. That process, coach Mike Zimmer admitted last month, was more complex than even he anticipated, to the point where the coach mused at the NFL combine about the possibility of adding a kicking coach or trying sure-handed players like Harrison Smith or Adam Thielen out as holders.
The 31-year-old Bailey said he had a kicking consultant — former Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol — during his first two NFL seasons with Dallas and wasn’t opposed to the idea of the Vikings adding one this year.
“To bring somebody like that in, another set of eyes is not going to hurt,” Bailey said. “The more people you have looking at it — especially if they have experience doing the craft you’re trying to perfect — I’m all for it.”
But even if the Vikings don’t find the right person to assist new special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf, Bailey sounded optimistic he’ll be better because of a full offseason with the Vikings’ kicking operation.
Keeping Wile as the holder, Bailey said, comes with some practical benefits, since a position player would have other tasks in practice and might not have as much time to spend with the kicker and long snapper Kevin McDermott. He said Wile “works just as hard as anybody I’ve ever been around” to improve as a holder.
“There’s a little bit to be desired there on my performance,” Bailey said. “But it’s getting that full offseason in, with Kevin and Matt and whoever else we’re going to be working with — getting synced up together with that, being around each other more and getting a lot of reps together. I think that’s going to really help a lot. My last season in Dallas, two years ago, I had some injuries where I missed a few games, and obviously, you miss the first two games last season there in Minnesota. I think getting a full 16 in, and a full offseason as well, that’s the thing I’m most excited about.”
Vikings host Shatley
Former Jaguars offensive lineman Tyler Shatley spent Friday in Minnesota on a free-agent visit; Shatley left the Twin Cities without signing a deal, though there remains a decent chance the Vikings will agree to a deal with the 27-year-old.
Shatley started seven games at center for the Jaguars last season, and has made 15 starts in the past three seasons. He spent time at left guard for the Jaguars in 2016; were he to sign with the Vikings, he could wind up competing for playing time there, while giving the team another option at center if Pat Elflein was injured.