Vikings Linked to Recently Released First-Round Pick

Jonathan Abram, Raiders

Getty Safety Johnathan Abram of the Las Vegas Raiders walks off the field at halftime of a game against the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings turned an untimely injury into a Pro-Bowl starter at tight end just last week. The team now has a chance to add a former first-round pick whom they were urged pursue ahead of the trade deadline.

Rookie safety and first-round selection Lewis Cine was lost for the year after sustaining a broken leg in Week 4. Home to a softer secondary than most of the top-end defensive backfields around the NFL, Minnesota was linked by Cody Benjamin of CBS to a potential trade for Las Vegas Raiders safety Jonathan Abram. The Raiders were shopping the fourth-year player after deciding against picking up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.

After no deal was struck to send Abram to the Vikings, or any other team in the league, the Raiders chose instead on November 8 to release him.

“A surprise: The #Raiders are releasing former first-round pick safety Jonathan Abram per source,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted on Tuesday. “Like all players released after the trade deadline, Jonathan Abram will go on waivers. He’s due a little over $1 million in base salary for the rest of 2022, the last year on his rookie contract.”

Vikings Can Afford Abrams on Current Deal, Reinforce Secondary

Jonathan Abram, Raiders

GettyCB Amik Robertson #21 of the Las Vegas Raiders steps over WR Jerry Jeudy of the Denver Broncos as S Johnathan Abram #24 and DE Chandler Jones #55 of the Raiders react during a game at Allegiant Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After Cine suffered his injury, Camryn Bynum stepped into a permanent starting role at free safety alongside Harrison Smith at strong safety. Abram has been a strong safety throughout his career, starting 34 games at the position for the Raiders in 36 appearances. Over the course of his NFL tenure, Abram has amassed 255 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, 12 passes defensed, nine quarterback hits, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, per Pro Football Reference.

If added to Minnesota’s roster, Abram may not find himself in a starting role. But the team could use some depth in the secondary, as Pro Football Focus currently ranks Smith 40th and Bynum 69th out of 86 players who qualify at the safety position. Abram could provide that depth at value, earning approximately $1 million for the second half of the year.

The Vikings currently have $1.7 million in salary cap space and could add the safety to the mix without complication. Should Abram fail to perform, Minnesota would not be beholden to him following the 2022 season.

Vikings May Have Other Plans For Limited Cap Space, Including Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr.

GettyWR Odell Beckham Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams warms up prior to facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.

The biggest complications to adding Abram are the other players in whom the Vikings may desire to invest their limited cap space.

Minnesota remains a serious contender for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who is expected to return to the field at some point over the next month after tearing his ACL during the Super Bowl in February. Other competitors for Beckham’s services, such as the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams, have faltered in recent weeks while the Vikings have marched to a 7-1 record.

Just last week, the team restructured the contract of Pro-Bowl right tackle Brian O’Neill to move from less than $300,000 in cap space to more than $1.7 million, a sign that the Vikings aren’t finished adding to the roster.

Minnesota’s current cap number probably isn’t enough to bring Beckham in, though another maneuver or two could open up enough space to get it done. Spending $1 million to add Abram would complicate the issue, though not necessarily to a point that the Vikings couldn’t bring both players into the fold for the stretch run.

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