Vikings Made Calls for $33 Million Pro Bowl RB: Report

Kirk Cousins and Kevin O'Connell

Getty Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell and quarterback Kirk Cousins.

After finalizing their initial 53-man roster on Tuesday, the Minnesota Vikings tried to sign former Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon to reinforce their running back room.

Insider Jordan Schultz reported on Tuesday that the Vikings, along with the Indianapolis Colts and  Miami Dolphins “made calls” about Gordon.

KSTP’s Darren Wolfson elaborated on Thursday, August 31, that the Vikings tried to sign Gordon to the practice squad on Wednesday, knowing Kene Nwangwu was bound for the injured reserve list. Gordon, 30, was cut by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday but chose to re-sign to Baltimore’s practice squad.

“I will say, they did try to add Melvin Gordon to the practice squad,” Wolfson said on SKOR North’s “Mackey and Judd.” “Melvin is pretty darn accomplished… He chose to go back to Baltimore versus coming here to Minnesota. But what would that have looked like?”

The Vikings eventually signed former Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin to the 53-man roster, but Wolfson was piqued by the approach the Vikings took in their talks with Gordon considering they needed a running back that is experienced and ready for Week 1.

“Was there any sort of, ‘Hey, come to the practice squad but we’ll put you on the 53-man?’ Or, ‘You have a great chance,’ ” Wolfson added.  “I wonder what that dialogue was like.”

A 2015 first-round pick, Gordon earned Pro Bowl honors in 2016 and 2018 as a dual-threat out of the backfield. In eight seasons, he’s tallied 6,462 rushing yards and 2,467 receiving yards for 69 total touchdowns. Last season Gordon signed to a $1.16 million veteran minimum deal with the Ravens, per Over The Cap. He has earned $33.8 million in his career.

Nwangwu is out at least the first four weeks of the season and Kevin O’Connell‘s reaction to the roster move did not give much optimism for his availability by Week 5.

Kevin O’Connell Unsure About Kene Nwangwu’s Return to Vikings Lineup

Kene Nwangwu

Courtesy of VikingsKene Nwangwu

In an August 31 media conference, O’Connell addressed Nwangwu, who is dealing with lower-back issues, landing on the injured reserve list and his timeline — or lack thereof — for returning to action.

“Kene, who we were able to carry through [on the 53-man roster] and then put on injured reserve gives him the opportunity to work through his injury and ultimately maybe return to help us a some point — don’t want to put a timeline on that,” O’Connell said. “Conversations with Kene, He’s feeling better and better we’ll continue to work through that and try to get him back with us at some point this year.”

Back injuries have proven finicky in the NFL, which is why O’Connell declined to give a specific timeline that could force Nwangwu to rush his rehab.

“Putting timelines on some things can be unfair to the player. We want him to feel strong and ready to go to truly have his impact on the team that he’s had,” O’Connell added. “We’re working with Kene every single day on that. We’re going to be with him every step of the way.”

Nwangwu will be missed on special teams where his three kickoff return touchdowns leads the league since 2021. He was poised to take a step forward and contribute on offense this season.

Instead, Ty Chandler will take over as the team’s kickoff returner and back up Alexander Mattison alongside Gaskin.

 Vikings are Betting Favorites to Win Season Opener vs. Buccaneers

After months of speculation, the 2023 NFL season will begin after Labor Day weekend.

The Vikings open the season at home on Sunday, September 10, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 12 p.m. Central time.

Minnesota is a 6-point favorite with the over-under set at 45.5, per RotoWire.

The Buccaneers are navigating the post-Tom Brady era by starting Baker Mayfield in Week 1. Brian Flores’ debut as Vikings defensive coordinator will bring intrigue as to how he handles a mobile quarterback like Mayfield.

Tampa Bay’s defense has finished either top 10 in points or yards allowed each of the past three seasons and should be a strong test for Kirk Cousins and Co. to begin the 2023 campaign.

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