The Vikings’ patience with the least productive first-round wide receiver in team history officially ran out on Saturday. And the kicker they acquired for a fifth-round pick three weeks ago didn’t make it to the start of the regular season.
The team’s decisions to part ways with 2016 first-rounder Laquon Treadwell and kicker Kaare Vedvik — who was acquired in an Aug. 11 trade with the Ravens — headlined a busy day of moves for the Vikings, who trimmed their roster to 53 before Saturday afternoon’s cutdown deadline.
Minnesota acquired cornerback Mark Fields from Kansas City in exchange for a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick, providing cornerback depth while the team waits for Mike Hughes’ return from last year’s knee surgery. In the meantime, the Vikings decided to keep just four wide receivers, making Treadwell their highest-profile cut.
Treadwell leaves the Vikings having caught just 56 passes for 517 yards and two touchdowns in three years. The Vikings declined his fifth-year option this spring and cut him before his fourth season once their efforts to trade him proved fruitless.
Treadwell had slipped down the team’s depth chart, falling behind 2018 undrafted free agent Chad Beebe and 2019 seventh-rounder Bisi Johnson, and coach Mike Zimmer admitted after the team’s second preseason game the Vikings were trying to get the ball to Treadwell in an effort to “showcase him a little bit.” With Treadwell set to make $1.804 million in 2019, though, the Vikings were unable to find a taker for the Mississippi product and opted to recoup $654,770 in cap savings by cutting him.
Of the six receivers in team history who played a game for the Vikings after being selected in the first round, only Treadwell failed to last more than three seasons or post more than 1,000 career receiving yards.
It’s possible the Vikings could bring Vedvik back to their practice squad — if they decide another specialist is worth a spot in the 10-man group — but if he moves on to another team, his brief stay in Minnesota will count as yet another bizarre chapter in the team’s travails with kickers and punters.
Vedvik missed three of his four field-goal attempts in preseason games and had a punt returned for a touchdown in the Vikings’ preseason finale on Thursday night, as his erratic performance led the Vikings to keep Dan Bailey as their kicker and Matt Wile as their punter.
The conditions on the trade’s seventh-round pick are based on the number of games Fields spends on the team’s roster, according to an NFL source. If Fields isn’t on the roster long enough to meet the agreed-upon threshold, the Vikings wouldn’t have to give the Chiefs a draft pick.
Vikings keep two QBs
The Vikings also parted ways with Kyle Sloter, after a source said they attempted to trade him before the roster cutdown deadline, and cut undrafted free agent Jake Browning (who could return to the practice squad). The only two quarterbacks on the team’s opening roster are Kirk Cousins and Sean Mannion.
The team kept five running backs and retained as many tight ends — four — as receivers, after choosing to keep undrafted free agent Brandon Dillon, who made the roster out of Marian University, an NAIA school in Indiana. The Vikings could look to add a fifth receiver in the coming days; an NFL source said the team has interest in bringing Brandon Zylstra back to the practice squad and potentially returning him to the active roster once space is cleared.
There are 10 offensive and defensive linemen each on the Vikings’ roster, as well as 10 defensive backs, though they’re still waiting for Hughes’ return. After Zimmer lauded the team’s linebacker depth, the Vikings kept just five players at the position, letting go of fifth-round pick Cameron Smith.