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Written By Sam Ekstrom (ZoneCoverage.com)
EAGAN — Per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Vikings traded a 2020 fifth-round pick for Baltimore Ravens kicker/punter Kaare Vedvik on Sunday, bringing in potential competition for both kicker Dan Bailey and punter Matt Wile.
Trade: Ravens are sending kicker Kaare Vedvik to Minnesota in exchange for a 2020 5th-round draft pick, per league source. Vikings could wind up using Vedvik as their kicker and punter.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 11, 2019
Vedvik, a rookie in 2018, missed all of last regular season after he was a victim of an assault in Baltimore. In his first preseason game since being reinstated from the non-football injury list, Vedvik hit four field goals in the Ravens’ 29-0 win over the Jaguars last Thursday.
“If we indeed made a trade,” Zimmer said Sunday, not confirming the report, “it’s to try and get better guys.”
In six career preseason games, the Norwegian native and Marshall grad is 12 of 13 on field goals and 11 of 11 on extra points. His 19 preseason punts a year ago produced a net average of 40 yards, which would’ve ranked 16th over the course of the regular season. His two punts Thursday produced an excellent 48-yard net.
It’s unclear whether the Vikings envision Vedvik primarily as a kicker, punter or both, but Zimmer indicated that the team’s long-snapping competition, as well as holding issues that also plagued the team a year ago, are contributing to Bailey’s struggles — which may give him some reprieve.
Despite going 4 of 4 on extra points in Minnesota’s preseason win Friday, Bailey has kicked below an 80 percent clip at training camp and has yet to have a perfect day. He was 75 percent on field goals a year ago with Wile as holder, the second-lowest percentage in the league.
“Honestly, I really like Dan Bailey,” Zimmer said Sunday afternoon. “He’s a very professional, mature kid. We’ve been having some issues with the snap, hold, kick kind of thing. And I think having two long snappers, that’s adding to it a little bit because the timing is different. The holding we’re working on quite a bit, but I like Dan.”
With receiver Chad Beebe replacing Wile as the holder Sunday, Bailey went 5 of 7, missing his final two kicks to the right.
Having temporarily lost his holding job, Wile will attempt to hang onto his punting gig against Vedvik. A year ago, Wile was upper-half in a number of categories, finishing 10th in net punting average, tied for 13th in punts inside the 20 and fifth in lowest return average against.
But as the middle man in the placekicking operation, Wile has not been smooth enough in his season-plus as holder. Then-special teams coordinator Mike Priefer brought up his struggles last December.
“Could Matt [Wile] have had a few that were a little bit off? Sure. They could have been a little bit better. Could that have helped Dan put the ball through? Sure. There’s a lot of kickers in this league that have had a lot worse holds that have put the ball through the uprights, and that’s the great thing about Dan. That’s him talking to me saying, ‘Coach I got to put that through.'”
Meanwhile, the Vikings are still sorting out their long-snapping battle. Incumbent Kevin McDermott has been sharing reps with rookie Austin Cutting. The two each snapped three times in Friday’s game and have been rotating during practice.
UPDATE: NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported late Sunday that the Vikings informed McDermott of his release after spending four seasons with the Vikings.
Between using multiple long-snappers, multiple holders and watching Bailey struggle — all while introducing new special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf — the Vikings decided to shake things up even more by acquiring Vedvik for a reportedly steep price. Who he’d replace is the unanswered question.
Bailey and Wile declined comment on Sunday.