Wide receiver Justin Jefferson, the Vikings’ top pick in the 2020 draft, was cleared to begin training camp Tuesday after he was removed from the team’s COVID-19 reserve list. The rest of the team’s roster moves, however, dealt another blow to their defensive line.
The Vikings placed defensive tackle Armon Watts on the COVID-19 reserve list, and announced P.J. Hall — the defensive tackle they had acquired in a trade Monday — failed his physical, meaning he will head back to the Raiders. Minnesota will recoup the conditional seventh-round pick it had dealt in exchange for Hall to the Raiders, who had intended to cut him before the trade.
Hall, a second-round pick in 2018, had played in a scheme similar to the Vikings defense while working with Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, a longtime assistant of Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was defensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Without Hall on the roster, and with Watts sidelined for the time being, the Vikings will continue their efforts to reconfigure their defensive tackle group after Michael Pierce’s decision to opt out of the 2020 season because of his history with asthma.
The adjusted rules of the NFL’s final agreement with the NFL Players Association for the 2020 season will provide the Vikings with additional salary cap relief after Pierce’s choice. The nose tackle’s contract will roll over into 2021, but none of his $6 million signing bonus will count against the cap in 2020.
Seventh-round pick Brian Cole was also removed from the COVID-19 list, meaning the safety can begin training camp with the rest of the Vikings defensive backs.