With it being roster cutdown day, 27 players per team – 864 total – see their NFL dreams take an unfortunate detour. Some of them will be claimed on waivers by another team while others will make the practice squad. Some will stay free agents hoping for a chance or a shot at the USFL or XFL this upcoming February.
When initial 53-man rosters become finalized at 3 pm central time, they won’t stay intact for very long. Waivers will be very busy Wednesday afternoon at that same 3 pm central time.
With the Vikings already making a litany of roster moves, they will be among the teams that are active in both the waiver and trade markets. Here are five players they should target.
WR Tyler Johnson
Aug 20, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Tyler Johnson (18) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
The former Golden Gopher was a great player. In 2019, he was the unquestioned leader for a team that made a huge leap under P.J. Fleck.
Opposite Rashod Bateman, Johnson set multiple team records and made highlight-reel catches. His biggest issues were drops and top-tier athleticism. Both of those issues haven’t gone away.
What he does bring to the table is good route running and a technical savvy that can make him a more explosive than average slot receiver. he was never able to develop a rapport with Tom Brady. With the Vikings only rostering five wide receivers and a punt gunner, Johnson would be a welcomed addition to the room.
Center Brock Hoffman
May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns center Brock Hoffman (57) walks off the field during organized team activities at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
One of the key elements to a backup offensive lineman is versatility. Hoffman is a center by trade but he can slide over and play guard.
After a great tenure at Florida State, Hoffman played relatively well for the Cleveland Browns this preseason. After losing their top two centers, Hoffman seemed primed to make the final 53. With his release, the Vikings could end up adding a center that can be a safety valve for Garrett Bradbury with pass-protecting acumen.
Defensive lineman Jay Tufele
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Jay Tufele (97) gets around offensive lineman Ben Bartch (78) during one-on-one drills at Monday’s training camp. The Jacksonville Jaguars held training camp Monday, August 1, 2022, at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville Knight Campus practice fields on Atlantic Blvd.
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The first pick of the fourth round in 2021, Tufele is a gap-shooting 3-technique defensive tackle that specializes in rushing the passer.
For the Jaguars last season, he played in only four games before his untimely release on Tuesday.
The addition of Tufele would be betting on the upside that he showed at USC in his college days: a quick, upside pass rusher that would thrive in this defense.
He would also be an inexpensive option, as he doesn’t have a lot of guarantees left on his deal.
Cornerback Logan Ryan
Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Logan Ryan (26) warms up during a joint training camp practice against the Tennessee Titans at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.
Nas 0817 Titans Bucs 002
Ryan has played really well over the course of his career. Ryan has played for three teams over the last nine seasons as a two-time Super Bowl Champion. Being cut by the Buccaneers on Tuesday is somewhat of a surprise, but they have a relatively strong cornerback room.
Ryan would be an immediate upgrade in the slot over incumbent Chandon Sullivan. He can also still play on the outside, move around and play safety. With new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell set to prioritize skill sets over positions, Ryan could fit in like a glove, especially in three safety dime packages.
Tight end O.J. Howard
Bills tight end O.J. Howard celebrates his touchdown reception during the Bills preseason game against Denver Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Highmark Stadium. Buffalo won the game 42-15.
Sd 082022 Bills 3 Spts
Tight end is one of the toughest positions to transition from the college ranks to the NFL. There is a saying that if you draft a first-round tight end, you are developing them for their next team.
Not only do you have to block like an offensive lineman but you are expected to be a wide receiver in the passing game. Considering trench players in the NFL are exponentially better than in college, some players don’t acclimate right away. It can take them up to 3-4 years to be truly ready to play the position well.
Howard was selected in the top ten by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and saw a similar path. Going into his fourth season, Howard was primed to be a breakout player but a torn Achilles ended his season in week four. He played one more season with the Buccaneers but was unable to capitalize on the momentum he had built for himself.
The Bills cutting Howard is a bit of a surprise. Signed to a one-year/$3.5 million contract, the idea of pairing him and emerging star Dawson Knox together was really appealing with Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis on the outside.
Currently, the Vikings don’t have a tight end that can step into a starting role and play it well. With Irv Smith Jr.’s injury history, that is a position the Vikings should prioritize finding an upgrade at the position.