With a roster that is increasingly older, better and more experienced, it is getting harder for rookies, even the draft picks, to make the Minnesota Vikings’ 53-man roster. General Manager Rick Spielman likes to have 10 picks each draft and the better the roster is, the more difficult it is for the rookies to stick.
With that, the Vikings released several draft picks on Saturday on their roster cutdown to 53 players, including fourth-round pick Willie Beavers, perhaps the highest drafted pick this year that didn’t make a 53-man roster in the NFL.
“This is the worst time of the year for us as we go ahead and make these difficult decisions. We know we had to cut a few guys that are going to have opportunities elsewhere,” Spielman said on Saturday night after the cuts became official. “I know our roster, the depth on this roster, has really improved over the last couple years with all the picks that we have had. I'm always going to be very aggressive on having 10 picks to come in and compete with what we have.”
While Beavers didn’t make the 53-man roster, he was among the players brought back to the team on Sunday as the Vikings began to form their 10-man practice squad. So were sixth-round receiver Moritz Böhringer and seventh-round DE Stephen Weatherly.
“There are guys that I know that we're very interested to bring back on our practice squad that we feel very strongly about, will have a role on this team as soon as this year or for sure definitely down the road in the future,” Spielman said after Saturday’s cuts. “… As you finalize your 53-man roster, you always want to keep the best 53 players possible, but you always have to look at where you're going to be at on opening day. You have to look at the depth at certain positions. You've got to look at potential guys who are injured, may or may not play.”
During the cut to 53, the Vikings placed S Michael Griffin and CB Jabari Price on injured reserve and QB Taylor Heinicke on the reserve/non-football injury list.
On Sunday, the Vikings weren’t awarded any players off waivers, but they did have one of their rookies claimed off waivers. The Packers claimed RB Jhurell Pressley.
Players eligible for the practice squad can’t have more than two years on the practice squad or have an accrued season of free-agent credit (if the player has more than an accrued season he must have been on the game-day active list for fewer than nine regular-season games during those accrued seasons).
Here is the initial practice squad for the Vikings, with one opening remaining, keeping in mind it tends to change on an almost weekly basis as the team gets a longer look at players: