Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Vikings sign veteran ex-privateer tight end after Jets Trade went bankrupt

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The Minnesota Vikings made an illuminating move on Wednesday.

The Vikings have hired experienced tight end Luke Stocker and cutting tackle Zack Bailey to make room for Stocker on the training team.

The Vikings now have three tight ends in their training roster, most of them from any position. Stocker joins fifth-round rookie Zach Davidson and third-year tight end Brandon Dillon in the training squad position.

Stocker could prove to be the successor to Chris Herndon, who struggled with his transition to the Vikings after moving from the New York Jets in the off-season.

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A Tampa Bay Buccaneers fourth-round draft pick Stocker has started 91 games in his career and has emerged as one of the earliest blocking tight ends.

Stocker, 33, spent seven seasons with the Buccaneers before joining the Tennessee Titans and later the Atlanta Falcons. He’s struggled with an under-performing Falcons offensive for the past two seasons, but got a run-blocking grade of 77.5 from Pro Football Focus in 2019 and a position grade of 76.1 with the Titans in 2018. Stocker started in Year 2020 13 of 16 games for the Falcons.

He enters the Viking locker room as the most experienced tight end through a landslide. Tyler Conklin, Herndon, and Dillon are all in their third year, followed by Ben Ellefson and Davidson in their second year.

Ellefson was signed off from the Jacksonville Jaguars training team and has surpassed Herndon, whom the Vikings met after the end of the season after meniscus surgery at Irv Smith Jr.

Given Stocker’s signing, Herndon may have fallen out of favor with the Vikings.

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Herndon is the lowest rated attacker among the Vikings this season with a PFF rating of 34.2. He comes from a season-low 27.9 offensive grade after taking two penalties against the Detriot Lions on Sunday.

Herndon took an average of 10 snaps per game and comes from back-to-back games where he’s seen seven snaps during the season. He’s having problems as a blocker and has yet to catch two targets, both of which were thrown in Week 1.

Stocker’s presence could mean that Herndon will be taken off the offensive as a last chance with the penalties he has committed.

“The Vikings who made the move to Herndon were no big surprise considering how desperate they were after losing Irv Smith Jr. to a close end. But it’s safe to say they paid too much, ”said Justin Fried, writer for Jet Press.

Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson reported Wednesday that Ellefson was in training. His injury status is unknown, however the Vikings have shown a preference for Ellefson over Herndon when both tight ends were healthy.

“The Vikings who made the move to Herndon were no big surprise considering how desperate they were after losing Irv Smith Jr. to a close end. But it’s safe to say they paid too much, ”said Justin Fried, writer for Jet Press.

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