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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad’s 3-and-out: Will Vikings take opportunity to upgrade at kicker?

By Judd Zulgad

The Vikings’ roster now sits at the regular-season limit of 53 players, although there are certainly more moves to come after Saturday’s cuts were announced. Here are three thoughts on what the Vikings did or what moves could be coming.

There’s a kicker

Rookie kicker Daniel Carlson made both of his field-goal attempts in the Vikings’ final preseason game on Thursday after he missed two kicks from 42 yards in the team’s third exhibition against Seattle.

Carlson, whose competition with veteran Kai Forbath ended a few weeks back when Forbath was released, appears on track to be the Vikings’ opening day kicker. That isn’t a surprise since general manager Rick Spielman traded up to take the former Auburn kicker in the fifth round of last April’s draft.

But is going with Carlson the best idea? Especially with a coach like Mike Zimmer who seems to have little patience for kickers, both young and old.

There is now a potential option on the market who could make the Vikings’ life easier.

The Dallas Cowboys cut ties with Dan Bailey, the best kicker in that franchise’s history, on Saturday in what’s writer called a “stunning move.” Bailey had signed a seven-year, $22.5 million deal with the Cowboys in 2014 and had three years left on his contract.

Bailey’s 186 career field goals are a Cowboys record and his 88.2 field-goal percentage is second in NFL history to Justin Tucker of Baltimore. A groin injury slowed the 30-year-old Bailey last season — he hit a career-low 75 percent of his field-goal attempts — but when he’s healthy he’s extremely reliable. Bailey missed two point-after-attempts last season but had never missed one in his seven-year career before that.

Bailey, entering his eighth NFL season, will be a free agent and won’t have to go through the waiver process.

If Bailey would be willing to sign a contract for a reasonable price, in exchange for joining a team that is among the favorites in the NFC, his presence could help Zimmer’s blood pressure.

A cruel game

Zimmer is a loyal coach who clearly becomes attached to his veteran players, but it appears that attachment doesn’t run deep enough to make emotional decisions over logical ones.

The decision to cut defensive end Brian Robison on Saturday proved that to be the case. The Vikings issued statements from Zimmer, Spielman and ownership on Robison, but they still cut a guy who took a $2.1 million pay cut this spring to remain with the Vikings and was set to make $1.1 million this season.

Robison, a fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft, is 35 years old and was entering his 12th season. He was popular in the locker room and had been expected to serve in a back-up role in which he would provide depth off the bench.

The Vikings decided to go with younger defensive linemen who are still developing. The move might not be a popular one with fans — or some of Robison’s teammates — but it was absolutely the right call for a team that is aiming for a Super Bowl and also wants to keep developing players.

There was a time when Zimmer might not have elected to cut a guy like Robison, but the NFL is a brutal business in which loyalty can only be taken so far. The Vikings made the right decision by not showing a misguided loyalty to Robison on Saturday.

Wright was the wrong call

It’s amazing that every offseason the Vikings seem to bring in at least one player whom fans and media get excited about only to see that guy get cut before he ever plays in a regular-season game.

The latest addition to that list was wide receiver Kendall Wright, who was released on Saturday. Wright was signed to a modest one-year, $1 million contract by the Vikings in late March after spending a season with the Chicago Bears.

The 28-year-old Wright caught 59 passes for 614 yards and a touchdown with Chicago in his sixth season in the NFL after playing his first five years with the Tennessee Titans.

The expectation was that Kendall Wright would take over the role that the often-underappreciated Jarius Wright had played in Minnesota. That meant getting some snaps as a slot receiver and playing behind Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and even Laquon Treadwell at times.

But Kendall Wright did not play special teams, something that was a strike against him, and he did little to stand out once training camp started. He caught only one pass for 9 yards in the preseason and is now looking for work.

The Vikings ended up keeping five wide receivers, including Diggs, Thielen, Treadwell, Stacy Coley and Brandon Zylstra. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them make a move at that spot in order to add more veteran depth before the regular-season opener.

The post Zulgad’s 3-and-out: Will Vikings take opportunity to upgrade at kicker? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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