Disgruntled Vikings Lineman Re-Signed After Cryptic Tweets: Report

Hercules Mata'afa

Courtesy of Vikings Vikings defensive end Hercules Mata'afa sent the league a message following a breakout game against the Bears.

It’s been a tumultuous 24 hours for Hercules Mata’afa. The third-year defensive lineman was unexpectedly cut by the Vikings on Tuesday to make room for ex-Washington defensive end Jordan Brailford, who was officially signed to the team the same day.

A source close to the team told the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson on Wednesday that Mata’afa is expected to be re-signed to the Vikings’ practice squad. His demotion came after fourth-round rookie James Lynch made his NFL debut against the Seahawks on Sunday.

In just eight snaps played, Lynch became the team’s first defensive interior lineman to register a sack this season — a feat that likely catapulted Lynch’s chances for more playing time and knocked Mata’afa to the reserve squad.

Mata’afa played just 16 snaps across three games this season and has only registered a tackle so far. His frustration has been seen through his Twitter profile where he’s made several cryptic posts that he later has deleted.

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Cryptic Posts

Following his release on Tuesday, Mata’afa tweeted a clown emoji, which is often used to express that something is foolish or a joke. Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson shared the tweet which spurred Mata’afa to delete it from his page minutes later but not before it was captured.

Mata’afa updated his profile photo on Wednesday around noon with him standing outside the Old Mill Ruins in Minneapolis flashing middle fingers. While the caption simply read “#NewProfilePic,” it could be seen as a slight to the Vikings for cutting him after his last post was met with scrutiny by fans.

Two hours later, Mata’afa deleted the post and changed his profile photo to a more appropriate shot after the news that he would be re-signed went public, but until it’s announced the photo of him carrying his bags was met with some fans wishing Mata’afa success wherever he may land.

Mata’afa’s Fall From Grace

A former Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Mata’afa went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft and suffered a torn ACL just a couple of weeks before Vikings training camp. The Vikings, who have been vocal about their support in Mata’afa, kept him in the building throughout his rehab process.

He played a supplemental role in 2019, playing in six games. His lone highlight was a fumble recovery against the Packers. In the 2020 preseason, Mata’afa was held in high praise by defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson.

Patterson told local media to not forget about Mata’afa when discussing the Vikings’ defensive line group during training camp.

“Don’t forget Hercules Mata’afa, too,” Patterson said. “There’s great talent within the group. There’s a good mix of experience and youth. You’ve still got a good group of guys that are working to continue to progress their games.”

“We’ve got some guys that are ready to turn the corner,” Patterson added, however, Mata’afa appears to not be among that group and will likely be relegated to the practice squad.