NFL Insider on Veteran Pass Rusher: ‘Expect the Vikings to Deal Him’

Stephen Weatherly

Getty Stephen Weatherly was deemed a Vikings trade target ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline.

The Minnesota Vikings have entered a pass-rush renaissance.

After tallying the fifth-fewest sacks last season (23), the Vikings defense currently leads the NFL with 21 sacks, nearly matching last year’s season total through just six games this year.

The revival has come with the return of Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, who are back and better than ever in the purple and gold.

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Hunter suffered a herniated disc in his neck during training camp last season and underwent season-ending surgery. Griffen spent last year with the Dallas Cowboys and the Detriot Lions before being re-signed late in the offseason. Griffen has looked every bit of his Pro Bowl self despite approaching his 34th birthday in December.

However, another Vikings pass-rusher the team brought back this past after a one-year hiatus from Minnesota could part ways with the team once again.

 Stephen Weatherly Deemed a Top Trade Target

ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters took inventory of their rosters with the Nov. 2 trade deadline approaching and named a trade target for their respective teams.

Courtney Cronin named Stephen Weatherly as the Vikings’ top trade target. Weatherly was cut after just one season on a two-year contract with the Carolina Panthers this past offseason and agreed to take a pay cut with the Vikings after training camp.

However, Weatherly’s sacrifices may not be enough. Cronin said that if the Vikings can get as little as a sixth- or seventh-round pick, “expect the team to deal him at the deadline.”

From Cronin:

With Everson Griffen playing his way into the starting lineup and D.J. Wonnum next in line, Stephen Weatherly hasn’t gotten a whole ton of run as a rotational edge rusher. His snap count has dwindled into the single digits the past few weeks after he took a $500,000 pay cut to avoid being released at the start of the season. The Vikings’ defensive line is one place they aren’t hurting for depth, so if Minnesota could land a sixth- or seventh-round pick for Weatherly, expect the team to deal him at the deadline.

Weatherly played 46 snaps in the first two weeks of the season while Griffen gained his bearings. But after that, Weatherly’s played just 36 snaps in the past four games.

Wonnum has actually out-snapped Griffen 261 to 217 this season as the two have rotated opposite of Hunter this season. Weatherly appears to be the odd-man-out, while fourth-round rookie Patrick Jones has yet to play a defensive snap this season.

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 Andre Patterson on Griffen Earning Starter Status: ‘He Deserves It’

After starting the season as a rotational piece, Griffen has started the past two games for the Vikings.

Griffen’s promotion had nothing to do with Wonnum underperforming but more so how well Griffen had looked through the first month of the season.

“He deserves it,” defensive line coach Andre Patterson said in an Oct. 13 press conference. “If you’re playing good and you should be starting, then you should be starting. It’s nothing against D.J. — D.J. is getting better and playing good.”

Patterson admitted that Griffen, currently ranked the 24th best edge rusher in the league by Pro Football Focus, “s making a strong case for getting more reps despite the better judgment to allow him “rest as the elder statesmen of the defensive “ends.

“You judge him off of how he played on the other two teams (the Cowboys and the Lions),” Patterson said. “To me, he didn’t look like the Everson that I know and love. (Now,) he looks like Ev. You know, Zim and I got together late last week and said, ‘hey, you know he’s playing like the Pro-Bowl Ev that we know. And because of that, we should start him, but not change our plan that we have for him. ‘”

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