Four Players on the Vikings Roster Bubble

Questions Answered: Zimmer-Packer Theories, Playoff Chances, Rookie RB Out
Oct 13, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports.

With the Minnesota Vikings playing their final preseason game on Friday, some difficult roster decisions are approaching. The Vikings have to cut their roster down from 80 to 53 players by Tuesday, and there is young, inexperienced depth at many different positions that ultimately may not make the team this year. Of course among the 27 players that will be cut, 16 will have the opportunity to make the practice squad. Without further ado though, here is a short list of players that may find themselves on Minnesota’s roster bubble.

G Dakota Dozier

Dakota Dozier
Sep 8, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings offensive guard Dakota Dozier (78) runs on to the field prior to a game against the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

Dakota Dozier started at left guard for the Vikings in 2020, but it was less than stellar. Among PFF’s qualifying starting guards, Dozier ranked fourth-worst in the entire league. Dozier had a very sloppy first preseason game, low-lighted by a holding call in the end zone causing a safety. Training camp sensation Oli Udoh started against the Colts, but Dozier played much better as the second-stringer. Especially in pass protection, he showed some promising signs.

The problem is, rookie Wyatt Davis played just as well during his reps, and the Ohio State standout did not have nearly as many struggles against Denver. That and this spring’s acquisition of interior swing man, Mason Cole, puts Dozier’s job security into question. If there are any slip ups against Kansas City, Dozier may have played his last in Minnesota.

QB Jake Browning

Wyatt Davis / Jake Browning
May 26, 2021; Eagan, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jake Browning (3) and offensive lineman Wyatt Davis (51) in drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

This one probably comes as no surprise. The Vikings have typically only carried two QBs on their roster, and as disappointed as some people may be by Kellen Mond, there is no doubt he has played better and has more potential than Jake Browning.

Browning will probably find himself on Minnesota’s practice squad, but he simply has not performed well enough to garner a roster spot. His indecision with the ball has led to multiple sacks, and the passes we’ve seen have been mostly inaccurate.

DE Stephen Weatherly

Stephen Weatherly
Oct 7, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive end Stephen Weatherly (91) hits Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) causing a fumble that was returned 64 yards for a touchdown during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s get a little crazy, shall we? Every year, there’s at least one or two cuts that take us off guard. Honestly, it feels like this year it might be Stephen Weatherly. The veteran DE has not been very impressive this preseason, at least not any more so than D.J. Wonnum or Patrick Jones II. The Vikings also recently brought back Everson Griffen to at least take over some pass-rush situations. This shows that if nothing else, the Vikings do not have a ton of faith in any of their RDE options right now.

On top of that, Weatherly is currently slated to make $2.5 million this year; the fourth-most among all Vikings defensive linemen. It’s also more than Griffen, Jones, and Hercules Mata’afa make combined. By cutting Weatherly and keeping Mata’afa, the Vikings would save around $1.3 million against the cap which could go towards finding more depth at a position of need, such as safety.

RB A.J. Rose Jr.

Aug 14, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back AJ Rose (36) in action against the Denver Broncos during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Rose Jr. has been very fun to watch this preseason. He burst onto the scene immediately by handling most of the carries in the preseason opener, totaling 25 carries for an even 100 yards. He’s also made some splashes as a receiver out of the backfield; something the Vikings could do a little more of this season. Unfortunately, running back just happens to be one of Minnesota’s deepest positions, highlighted by Dalvin Cook.

Minnesota also selected Kene Nwangwu in this spring’s draft, but we haven’t gotten to see much of him other than a single kick return. He’s been injured the rest of the preseason, but with the Vikings needing some help on special teams, he should make the roster due to his potential as a return man. Hopefully, Rose will find his way onto the practice squad, but there may be a team that snatches him up after the preseason he just had.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, this is by no means the entire list of cuts that the Vikings will make. We also still have an entire preseason game tonight before these decisions can be made. There are difficult choices to make all over the field. One that I will keep a close eye on, though, is the wide receiver room. The Vikings have a concerning amount of injuries right now, as Justin Jefferson and Dede Westbrook are yet to take preseason snaps, and Adam Thielen left after one series against the Colts. Obviously, the hope is that all three will be ready to go in Cincinnati, but some of the cuts that Minnesota makes may show some signs as to how confident they are that they’ll be around.