Vikings Sign Explosive Super Bowl Veteran to Defense

Sheldon Day

Getty The Vikings signed defensive tackle Sheldon Day to a futures/reserve contract on January 30, 2023.

While many practice-squad players are floating between NFL teams, the Minnesota Vikings secured a proven veteran.

The Vikings announced on Monday, January 30, that they’ve signed veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Day to a futures/reserve contract.

A 2016 fourth-round pick, Day saw his NFL dreams deferred when the Jacksonville Jaguars waived him midseason in 2017. The San Francisco 49ers signed him two days later and he quickly proved his worth with then-defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Day was a rotational interior lineman that gave the 49ers confidence they could focus elsewhere in the draft.

“The 49ers aren’t hungry for interior linemen anymore this offseason. Between [Earl] Mitchell, positive development around him on the inside last year, and the pleasant late-season acquisition of [Sheldon] Day — whose active motor thrived with the 49ers after his release from Jacksonville — this team’s full focus of need now resides on the edge,” The Athletic’s David Lombardi wrote in 2018.

While Day is a welcomed addition to the defense, Minnesota may still be hungry for interior linemen with starting defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson a pending free agent this offseason.

There’s been little chatter about whether the Vikings will retain him, but of any veteran defenders questionable to return next season, Tomlinson is a top priority to retain.

 New Vikings DT Sheldon Day’s Explosive Tape

At 6-foot-1, 285 pounds, Day isn’t a three-down trench man by NFL standards. However, what he lacks in size he’s made up for with explosiveness and high football IQ throughout his career.’s Lance Zierlein found Day to be a classic tweener between defensive end and tackle coming out of Notre Dame.

“Appears to be a man without a true position, but good football players find spots on rosters and snaps on the field. Day makes up for his undersized frame with quick hands, impressive lateral movement and effort level that is rarely matched,” Zierlein wrote. “There will be teams who scratch him off their draft board due to size and scheme concerns, but his ability to rush the passer from the interior will be sought out by others who recognize his potential value.”

Despite the size concerns, Day has carved out a journeyman career. He spent three seasons with the 49ers and made two postseason appearances. His tape below against the Vikings in the 2019 divisional round speaks volumes about his potential when used accordingly.

After Day was released following the 2020 season, he’s made stops with the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns. He did not play during the 2022 season.

Day will be 29 years old entering the 2023 season and appears to still have plenty of tread on the tires for a player his age. In 67 regular-season games, he’s tallied seven sacks, 14 tackles for loss and 76 combined tackles.

Vikings Defense Needs More Depth on Line

Minnesota would be advised to take a meat-and-potatoes approach to its offseason by beefing up depth on the defensive line.

The Vikings do need to replace the starting defensive tackle spot at the very least, but adding situational pass rushers like Day is the perfect recipe for improving the defense after the unit fell apart last season.

Patrick Peterson attributed the collapse to the pass rush’s inability to create pressure late in the year. Za’Darius Smith shouldered that load for the first half of the season before a knee injury hampered the second half of his season.

Danielle Hunter came along late in the season but had some growing pains learning to play as a 3-4 outside linebacker after lining up with his hand in the dirt on the line for the majority of his career.

The defensive coordinator hire will have heavy sway on the direction the defense goes both schematically and personnel-wise,

However, depth will be tantamount to whichever way the Vikings go in rebuilding its defense.

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