5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021


5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Hercules Mata’afa

The Minnesota Vikings finally released their final 53-man roster about an hour after Tuesday’s deadline at 3 p.m. CT. When the news of the cuts came trickling in, there wasn’t much that wasn’t expected.

Some young guys who showed they weren’t ready to contribute were among the early ones to receive the ax. But as the day progressed, the news of the players getting released by the Vikings became a little more surprising.

Some of these moves were shocking because they left Minnesota’s roster empty at certain positions. Others were a surprise because some notable veterans, who were assumed to have a role on this roster this season, were let go.

Whether or not these cuts stick remains to be seen, but for now, these are the five most surprising roster cuts the Vikings made on Tuesday as they trimmed their roster down to 53 players.

5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Hercules Mata’afa

What were a few of the most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made on Tuesday to reduce their roster to 53 players?

The Minnesota Vikings finally released their final 53-man roster about an hour after Tuesday’s deadline at 3 p.m. CT. When the news of the cuts came trickling in, there wasn’t much that wasn’t expected.

Some young guys who showed they weren’t ready to contribute were among the early ones to receive the ax. But as the day progressed, the news of the players getting released by the Vikings became a little more surprising.

Some of these moves were shocking because they left Minnesota’s roster empty at certain positions. Others were a surprise because some notable veterans, who were assumed to have a role on this roster this season, were let go.

Whether or not these cuts stick remains to be seen, but for now, these are the five most surprising roster cuts the Vikings made on Tuesday as they trimmed their roster down to 53 players.

5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Everson Griffen

Everson Griffen – DE

The news that Everson Griffen was cut by the Vikings was quite shocking indeed. They just signed him a little over a week ago, and there was plenty of hoopla surrounding that move.

Griffen held a press conference stating his happiness to be back and stated how the grass wasn’t greener in other places like he thought it would be. There was even news that Michael Pierce was willing to give Griffen his old No. 97 back, cementing that his return to the team would be a permanent one.

Griffen’s performance in his one game back with the team also gave no reason for his release. He was on fire with a sack, a quarterback pressure, and a tackle for a loss. He seemed fired up and showed he had plenty of gas left in the tank.

His performance and happiness to be back made his release all the more surprising. Now there is already talk the team wants him back and his release might just be a way for Minnesota to get some other players onto injured reserve instead of the PUP list.

No matter the reason, it was quite the shock to see Griffen’s name amongst the cuts, when players like Jalyn Holmes made the initial roster.

5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Dakota Dozier

Dakota Dozier – G

Based on his play, no Vikings fan should’ve been surprised the team cut Dakota Dozier. The guy had been a turnstile at guard since the day he signed with the Purple and was again this preseason when he played against second and third-team defensive linemen.

As bad as he’s been, Minnesota never once pulled him from the starting lineup and even went out and re-signed him to a new deal in the offseason. It was so head-scratching the team brought him back that many fans theorized that Dozier had some sort of dirt on Vikings general manager Rick Spielman or head coach Mike Zimmer, as there was no other reason to roster this guy.

So when news broke that Minnesota actually went ahead and excused this disappointment on their offensive line, it was a little surprising. The team will be rolling with a youth movement at guard with Ezra Cleveland, Oli Udoh, and Wyatt Davis topping the depth chart. All of those guys are more talented than Dozier and still have plenty of upside.

For fans thinking they have seen the last of Dozier in purple, that may not be the case. The team could still sign him to their practice squad, keeping the chance alive that we see him playing in a meaningful game for the Vikings once again.

5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Hercules Mata’afa

Hercules Mata’afa – DT

Hercules Mata’afa was always seen as a bubble guy. He’s been on and off the roster since he joined the team back in 2018 as an undrafted free agent.

He’s worked hard to make the team in the past and actually had a pretty solid preseason. He was in the backfield plenty and even notched a sack. But cracking this extremely deep defensive line proved to be too much and the team went in a different direction.

The direction they went was quite odd though. Somehow, Jalyn Holmes made the roster this year. Holmes can play defensive tackle or end, but he’s never really done either one very well. He has just one career sack and 43 tackles in 25 career games.

Mata’afa, on the other hand, has 2.5 career sacks and 25 tackles in 19 games. He is a much more versatile player who can play tackle, end, or even linebacker. He outplayed Holmes this preseason, so if the Vikings had to keep one of these guys, it was a little eyebrow-raising that they chose Holmes.

Mata’afa could return on the practice squad and be called up at some point down the road if this defensive line gets hit by injuries. Or maybe he will say enough is enough and look to catch on and make an impact with a new team in a new city.

5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) Ameer Abdullah

Ameer Abdullah – RB

Ameer Abdullah is kind of the Dakota Dozier of the running backs. He isn’t overly great and despite this, he continues to make the roster.

Abdullah has been a versatile player for the Vikings not only filling in on offense in certain packages and emergency situations, but he has been a major contributor on special teams. He’s been a great runner, a serviceable punt and kick returner.

Minnesota records loaded with picks heading into last April’s draft. It was assumed they’d take a running back with one of those, and others would be used on guys who could play special teams.

WIth Abdullah not doing a heck of a lot during the 2020 season, many figured he wouldn’t be brought back in 2021, but he was re-signed at the end of March. The fact he was re-signed gave a pretty strong indication that the team had plans for Abdullah and his spot on the roster would be safe.

When final cuts were made Abdullah was one of the last ones named. The team only kept three running backs, which they haven’t done in quite a while.

However, Abdullah may be back with the team sooner than later as Kene Nwangwu is hurt and will likely be placed on injured reserve. This would create an opening at running back and there isn’t a back out there who knows the system the way Abdullah does.

5 most surprising cuts the Minnesota Vikings made in 2021

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Andrew DePaola

Andrew DePaola – LS

This may have been the most shocking cut the Vikings made on Tuesday. The team cut their long snapper Andrew DePaola and they don’t currently have another one on the roster.

This is shocking for a couple of reasons. First of all, there never seemed to be any issues with DePaola’s snaps. The ball always seemed to be on target, whether it was a punt or a field goal, and if there was an issue, it was usually with the hold, or the kicker just shanking the kick.

The other concern is that bringing in a new long snapper this late in the summer will throw off the timing of the kicking and punting game. Assuming the Vikings do keep kicker Greg Joseph and punter Britton Colquitt, they are both accustomed to the speed and delivery of DePaola’s snaps. Bringing in someone new would be like starting from square one. This would be a very risky move this close to the start of the season.

The Vikings, no doubt, have a plan for the long snapping position. Perhaps they are going away from Greg Joseph at kicker and will go after one who was recently released, and maybe there’s a free-agent long snapper out there who is familiar with one of those kickers.

Maybe they plan on bringing DePaola back in some fashion, whether it be on the practice squad, or if they sign him after scouring the free-agent wire and making room for him by cutting other players.

Whatever it is, it was surprising to see the team cut down to 53 players and not have a long snapper on the roster.

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