Former Bengals linebacker Hardy Nickerson Jr. signed with the Vikings on Tuesday, the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling reported. The Vikings waived cornerback Marcus Sayles to create room on the 80-man roster for Nickerson.
Sayles was picked up by the Vikings in January after two years in the Canadian Football League. He was signed for his prospects as a nickel cornerback, but the Vikings seem comfortable having third-year corner Mike Hughes and rookie Jeff Gladney interchange in the slot.
Nickerson was undrafted out of Illinois and spent the past three seasons with the Bengals, starting in nine of 37 games played. Nickerson saw most of his action in the 2018 season, starting in seven games and tallying 57 tackles, one for a loss and a forced fumble.
Vikings co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said he tried to recruit Nickerson when he was coaching at University of Texas-El Paso. “I think it’s a good get,” Patterson said when asked about Nickerson’s signing.
Nickerson worked out with the Vikings on Monday along with linebacker Derrick Moncrief and safety Jahleel Addae. He is the son of all-decade Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Hardy Nickerson, who was a five-time Pro-Bowler and four-time All-Pro selection from 1987 to 2002.
Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Young Depth At Linebacker
With starting weakside linebacker Ben Gedeon still on the team’s PUP list after suffering two concussions in the 2019 season, the Vikings were left with few options beyond the rookie talent they gathered in the offseason.
Nickerson joins Fourth-round pick Troy Dye out of Oregon, Baylor seventh-rounder Blake Lynch and undrafted rookie Jordan Fehr behind the team’s top three active linebackers in Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Eric Wilson.
Nickerson is by no means a shoo-in for a roster spot as the rookies have potential the Vikings may be unwilling to part with before their first action in the NFL.
Dye led the Ducks in tackles four straight years and posted impressive numbers in several other categories: five interceptions, 14 passes defended, 13 sacks, four forced fumbles, 28.5 tackles for loss.
Lynch is an interesting prospect who made 32 career starts in college at five different positions: cornerback, linebacker, safety, wide receiver and running back. He started all 14 games in 2019 at linebacker, totaling 134 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, three interceptions, 12 passes defended and a blocked kick for the Bears.
Fehr out of Appalachian State was picked up for his freakish athleticism. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, posted a 40.5-inch vertical and bench pressed 415 pounds.
Vikings Looking to Address Safety Depth
Addae, entering his seventh season in the NFL, has worked out with the Vikings since Friday but has yet to be signed.
The Vikings safety depth, much like the linebacker group at one point, was all rookies beyond starting duo Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith. Miami Dolphins safety Steven Parker was signed the same day Addae was brought in for his first workout.
Addae continuing to be looked at the Vikings may hint that the team is still looking to add Addae or another safety to the training camp roster.
Undrafted in 2013, Addae proved his worth and played for the Los Angeles Chargers until last season when he joined the Houston Texans. He started all 16 games in his final two years with the Chargers and didn’t miss a game with the Texans. He played as a third linebacker at times for the Texans and would likely be the Vikings second strong safety.
Addae has four career interceptions, one which was returned 90 yards for a touchdown, and 417 combined tackles.
- Rookie Justin Jefferson Has 1 Red Flag, Analyst Says
- Vikings Preseason Hero QB Kyle Sloter Has Tryout With NFC Rival
- Cris Carter Calls Out Cowboys’ Herschel Walker: ‘Tell the Whole Story’
- Dalvin Cook Breaks Silence On Potential Holdout: Report
- ‘He Gets Pissed About It:’ Vikings’ Kirk Cousins Lands On Unflattering List
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.