(Image credit Anthony Souffle / Star Tribune)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick
Like I said in my trade grade for CJ Henderson anything can happen in the NFL if it is on the field with an upset or off the field with a transaction made by the team. As the trade deadline is coming closer and closer teams are looking to make moves to improve their team and their salary cap. Some may be a blockbuster trade but other trades are not. This is an example as recent news came out of a trade involving Minnesota Vikings DE/EDGE Stephen Weatherly.
Minnesota Vikings trade DE/EDGE Stephen Weatherly and a 2023 7th round pick to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 2022 7th round pick.
Many people reading this and looking at this trade are wondering; Who is Stephen Weatherly? So I will tell you who Weatherly is. Stephen Weatherly entered the league during the 2016 NFL Draft where he was selected in the 7th round, 227th overall by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings took a chance on him and while many don’t expect much for 7th round picks Weatherly was honestly a solid pick. He was a solid producer for the Vikings defense as he had 3 sacks in the 2018 and 2019 season. Weatherly's most notable play was when he sacked Jimmy Garoppolo in the Divisional Round of the 2019 playoffs. In the next season, he signed a two-year contract with the Carolina Panthers but regressed and suffered a season-ending finger injury. At the end of the season, he was released and the Vikings signed him to a 1-year prove-it deal.
Now that we know a little bit about DE/EDGE Stephen Weatherly let's take a look at both parties' sides of this deal.
Minnesota Vikings Side
Stephen Weatherly has not really been utilized at all this season and has only played 4 games this season for the Vikings. According to Spotrac.com, the Vikings are the only team that is under the league in salary cap as they have -930 thousand dollars in salary cap. They needed to get above the salary cap if they wanted to make a move and buy during the trade deadline. Especially as jobs are at stake as both Head Coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman could potentially be on the hot seat. They need to make the playoffs this year in order to save them and to solidify a playoff spot they have to improve their team and do it via trades at the deadline. With the Vikings making this move trading away Weatherly they get around a million dollars in salary relief most likely putting them above the salary cap. It's not an Osweiler effect move as they did not sacrifice a high to mid-round draft pick to get rid of his contract. So this move was a salary dump and pick swapped 7th round picks in order to get rid of his contract.
Denver Broncos Side
I had the Broncos as Buyers in my AFC West Buyers, Avoiders, or Sellers article during the deadline, especially as they needed to upgrade the entire defensive line including at DE/EDGE Rusher. Not only due to how competitive the AFC West is but especially now with the injuries involved with Denver’s defense. The Broncos are currently banged up on defense especially at the DE/EDGE Rusher. Especially as Bradley Chubb (Ankle - IR), Aaron Patrick (Ankle), and Von Miller (Ankle) are dealing with injuries that will take them out multiple games. Even Shelby Harris is dealing with a nagging wrist injury as well. The Broncos don’t have a ton of options to replace them as they lack experience. What Stephen Weatherly does have is experience as this is his 7th season in the NFL. The Broncos have a ton of salary cap space and can easily afford Stephen Weatherly’s contract. Hopefully, this helps improve their defense after the absolutely terrible performance that they had against a Cleveland Browns team without their starting running backs, quarterback, both starting offensive tackles, and both receivers playing hurt.
Grades for the Stephen Weatherly Trade
Minnesota Vikings: B+
Denver Broncos: B
I think it is a win-win trade for both teams but I have to give the slight advantage to the Minnesota Vikings to gain more salary relief and also get rid of a player that they were barely using. The Broncos meanwhile gained more depth at the DE/EDGE rusher position and only had to swap a 7th round pick. It will be interesting how the Broncos utilize him on defense and what the Vikings do during the trade deadline. Overall great move by both Vikings GM Rick Spielman and Broncos GM George Paton.