The Vikings are trading defensive end Stephen Weatherly and a 2023 seventh-round draft pick to the Denver Broncos for a 2022 seventh, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.
This is essentially a salary dump for the Vikings. Weatherly has averaged just nine snaps per game over the past four weeks, falling well behind not just Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen but also D.J. Wonnum in the rotation at defensive end. The Vikings weren't using him, so they're sending him to Denver and getting out of the remainder of his $1.5 million base salary. Whoever replaces him on the 53-man roster will almost certainly have a lower cap hit, likely a minimum salary.
Weatherly, 27, was brought back by the Vikings this offseason as one of their first moves in free agency. The 2016 seventh-round pick spent his first four seasons in Minnesota, then signed with the Panthers in 2020 to be a starter but struggled with injuries and didn't live up to the contract even when healthy.
Early this season, it seemed like Weatherly was going to be a big part of the Vikings' rotation at DE. He played 17 snaps in the opener and then 29 snaps in Week 2 with Griffen out, recording five pressures against the Cardinals. But Weatherly has played just 36 snaps in the four games since then, without any pressures.
This move between old friends Rick Spielman and George Paton helps fill a need for the Broncos, who have Bradley Chubb on IR and might be without Von Miller for a bit after he injured his ankle on Thursday. Weatherly can play outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. He was originally an OLB at Vanderbilt in college.
With Weatherly gone, Vikings third-round rookie Patrick Jones II will presumably get an opportunity to see some snaps for the first time in his career. He has been a healthy scratch all year.
It'll be interesting to see if the Vikings make any other moves before the November 2nd trade deadline.
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