Twitter is underrated. The website sometimes contains more than overt bigotry, veiled bigotry and fan anger. Sometimes — research indicates at least once a year — Twitter brings us poetry.
This year’s best stanza arrived on Wednesday from “What It Do Baybeee:”
“Will we see Vedvik hold a kick for himself sometime this season?”
This is either sublime satire or the primary subject of the next Vikings special teams meeting.
When the Vikings traded a fifth-round draft pick to Baltimore for kicker/punter/holder/backup Nordic mascot Kaare Vedvik, they continued to embrace a philosophy of expensive chaos when choosing their specialized special teamers.
In 2012, they spent a sixth-round draft pick on Blair Walsh, who produced an exceptional rookie season and was rewarded in 2015 with a four-year, $13 million contract extension. That’s the year he missed a 27-yard field goal that would have given Mike Zimmer his first playoff victory. Walsh was released nine games into the 2016 season.
In 2018, the Vikings spent a fifth-round pick on kicker Daniel Carlson. He lasted two games, then made 16 of his 17 field goal attempts with Oakland.
In the 2019 draft, the Vikings chose long snapper Austin Cutting in the seventh round. Add the pick traded to Baltimore for Vedvik, and the Vikings have spent four picks and one contract extension on specialists since 2012, without providing clear solutions to their ongoing questions at the positions.
Sunday night, Vedvik will presumably debut at U.S. Bank Stadium against Seattle, benefactor of Walsh’s worst miss. Zimmer’s public comments in support of kicker Dan Bailey indicate that the Vikings consider Vedvik as a replacement to punter Matt Wile.
Yet there was Wile on Thursday, working as the holder as Vedvik kicked field goals.
Any of these moves can be defended individually. The Vikings thought they had a long-term difference-maker in Walsh — or Carlson? They chose Bailey for his excellent résumé? They wanted a cheaper and better long snapper? They see Vedvik as a unique and prodigious talent? Each move was, on its own, defensible.
Cumulatively, the moves can only be described as reactionary and haphazard. With the regular season looming, the Vikings can’t with confidence tell you who might be kicking or punting for them halfway through the preseason, and they’ve spent significant assets on positions that most NFL teams fill with undrafted free agents.
Of the 20 most accurate field-goal kickers in NFL history, only three were drafted — Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Keading and Dustin Hopkins. The two most accurate kickers in NFL history — Justin Tucker and Robbie Gould — went undrafted, as did the closest thing the position has to a superstar, Adam Vinatieri.
In Vedvik, the Vikings have a prodigious talent who could be their future at punter, kicker, or both. He could solve some or all of their specialist problems, but only if Zimmer is willing to be patient with someone who has never kicked in an NFL regular-season game.
He wasn’t patient with Carlson, who was cut because he choked away a victory at Green Bay in Week 2 last year. I agreed with the move then because the Vikings were trying to win a Super Bowl with a roster filled with players in their prime, but why draft a kicker (or sign a kicker to a long-term contract) if you aren’t willing to tolerate rookie inconsistencies?
Three weeks before the season opener, the Vikings are still trying out holders. Maybe Vedvik should hold for himself. Maybe he should handle all punts and kickoffs and drop-kick field goals and extra points, saving the Vikings a roster spot.
Bailey is the fifth-most-accurate kicker in NFL history. Vedvik is a threat to what’s left of the ozone layer. This could all work out well for the Vikings, but did they really have to spend so many assets while looking so erratic just to get back to the point where they are again counting on an unproven young leg?