Vikings Officially Sign Todd Davis, Place Troy Dye on Injured Reserve

Will Ragatz

The Vikings have officially signed former Broncos linebacker Todd Davis, the team announced on Thursday. In a corresponding move, rookie linebacker Troy Dye was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the Vikings were expected to sign Davis. They got him to Minnesota for COVID-19 testing and made the move official today. This pickup was prompted by Anthony Barr's season-ending pectoral injury, which the longtime Viking suffered last Sunday against the Colts.

Davis is a nice addition for a team in desperate need of help at linebacker due to a plethora of injuries. He played a ton of football for the Broncos over the past four years, leading them in tackles in three of those seasons and generally recording very solid PFF grades.

From my original article on Davis:

Davis wasn't drafted in 2014 after a star career at FCS Sacramento State. He began his career as a UDFA with the Saints, but was signed off of their practice squad by the Broncos in November of his rookie year. Davis finished the season on Denver's active roster, starting two games.

He was mostly a backup and special teams ace in 2015, but has been a full-time starter for the Broncos over the past four years. Davis's best season came in 2018, when he had 114 tackles, five QB hits, seven passes defended, and a pick-six. PFF gave him a very solid 70.6 grade that year, which included grades above 67 in run defense, pass rush, and coverage. Back in 2017, his PFF run defense grade was 83.2.

Davis was a former Broncos captain, which says good things about who he is off of the field. He played for Gary Kubiak in 2015 and 2016, and that familiarity may have contributed to his desire to join the Vikings.

It'll be interesting to see how Davis fits into the Vikings' long-term plans. He's the same age as Barr but could be a cheaper option in 2021. The Vikings can create over $7 million in cap space by moving on from Barr next offseason, though they'd also take on over $7 million in dead money.

"Todd is a fine player," Kubiak said on Thursday. "When I had him in ’15, he was a special teams player for me and a captain for me from that standpoint. The next year he became a starter for me and a really good player. I think the world of Todd."

The scouting report on Davis is that he's better in run defense than in coverage, so it'll be interesting to see whether he or Eric Wilson are on the field with Eric Kendricks when the Vikings are in nickel.

As for this weekend against the Titans, it's unclear if Davis will be ready to go. He participated in practice Thursday and will be back out there on Friday, but is two practices enough time to get acclimated with a new defense? Even if he's active for the game, I'd expect to see Hardy Nickerson Jr. and/or Ryan Connelly get some snaps as the No. 3 linebacker behind Kendricks and Wilson.

Losing Dye is just the latest blow for the Vikings' linebacker room. The fourth-round rookie from Oregon stepped up against the Colts when Barr went down and would've been in line for an expanded role had he not hurt his foot. Early reports are that Dye might only need to miss the minimum three games, which would allow him to return in Week 6 against the Falcons.

The Vikings have now lost Anthony Barr, Cameron Smith, and (probably) Ben Gedeon for the season, and have Dye on IR as well. That's a lot of attrition at an important position.

Kendricks, Wilson, Davis, Nickerson, and Connelly are the five that Mike Zimmer is working with at this point. They've also got undrafted rookies Blake Lynch and Cale Garrett on the practice squad.

"It’s never easy to replace a guy like Anthony Barr," said co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer. "He does so many good things for us on defense, he’s a great football player, really smart and intelligent. We’re going to have to do some things different than we would if he was in there, but I’m very confident and comfortable with Eric Wilson playing a much larger role for us. I think he’s done a great job when he’s gotten the chance to play in not only the base, but in the sub. I’m confident he can step in and help us win.”

Barr has always been the guy who received the defensive play-calls through the headset in his helmet. Now, the Vikings have to decide whether that'll be Kendricks or Wilson.

“Well, we’re still looking at how we’re going to do that," Adam Zimmer said. "We may let him do it; we may let Eric Wilson do it so that Eric [Kendricks] can do what he always does. We’re working through that in practice, and we’ll decide that probably tomorrow in who’s going to do that for the game. It’s usually a collaborative effort, anyway, between those guys, between Harrison [Smith], between Anthony Harris. It really doesn’t matter who’s getting the call physically – it matters that we’re lined up in the right spots and ready to go.”

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