The mounting anticipation of the Minnesota Vikings making a big free-agent acquisition has been squashed momentarily.
After releasing quarterback Nate Stanley last week, the Vikings filled their final 90-man roster spot by signing former Denver Broncos tight end Shaun Beyer on July 25 — two days ahead of the first full day of training camp, per a team report. Beyer spent last season on the Broncos’ practice squad as an undrafted rookie in 2021.
Minnesota had the eighth-most cap space available ($15.64 million) following Stanley’s release, however, the funds remain largely untapped despite rumored interest in several prized veteran free agents.
The Vikings also placed wide receiver Blake Proehl and linebacker Ryan Connelly on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Monday.
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Remaining Veteran Free Agents Unlikely to Land in MN
Minnesota’s ample cap space has led to some speculation of a splash signing before training camp, when many veteran free agents hope to be signed and join their next team.
Rumors of the Vikings’ interest in Ndamukong Suh have been circulating throughout the moonlight of the NFL free-agency spending spree. Brad Stainbrook reported on July 12 that Minnesota and Suh have had talks and that the veteran defensive tackle is expected to sign somewhere before training camp. The Vikings appear to be the favorite to land the five-time Pro Bowler after reports that both the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders were content with their current rosters and were out on signing Suh for the moment. Former Browns center J.C. Tretter is also rumored to have the Vikings on a “short list” of teams he’s willing to sign with, according to SKOR North’s Judd Zulgad.
However, just two days before the first full-team practice of training camp, Minnesota has locked in its roster with Beyer, who was released by Denver in May.
The Vikings could make more roster cuts in the coming month that could free up a spot to sign Tretter, Suh or another player, but for now, Minnesota’s roster is at its capacity.
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Background on Beyer
In high school at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, the Iowa native played tight end, receiver, linebacker, safety and punter. He was named Class 4A Player of the Year, All-Metro Player of the Year and First-Team All-State as a senior when he totaled 43 receptions for 853 yards and 11 touchdowns, rushed 60 times for 682 yards and five scores and completed five passes for 41 yards.
Appearing in 35 games for Iowa, Beyer tallied 18 receptions for 275 yards (15.3 yards per reception) and one touchdown. Beyer secured 11 receptions for 158 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown against Illinois, in his best season as a pass catcher his senior year.
Beyer joins a tight end group in Minnesota that, beyond Irv Smith Jr., doesn’t offer much production in the passing game. Ben Ellefson, Johnny Mundt, Zach Davidson and Nick Muse have combined for 11 catches in their entire careers as the remaining tight ends on the depth chart.
There’s some cause for concern with the tight ends group if Smith has not fully recovered from meniscus surgery that shut down his 2021 season. Minnesota hopes to marry the run and passing game with Smith being a versatile piece to disguising their formations as a strong blocker and pass catcher.
“I’ve worked so hard throughout my life so it’s not like this is something that we built up last camp. I had a great camp and was looking forward to the season, but that momentum and everything hasn’t slowed down,” Smith said after team minicamps earlier this offseason, per Inside the Vikings. Coming out of this, it’s made me even stronger. So I’m excited, just to be back in the building, get back on the field, do what I love and be with my team, they’ve been super supportive of me, and this whole organization, everybody, has been very supportive. It’s going to be a very fun season.”
While Beyer’s production was capped in college while playing in a run-heavy Hawkeyes offense, he’ll look to show his pass-catching potential to earn the No. 2 tight end spot behind Smith.