Vikings cut kicker Vedvik just weeks after trade

MINNEAPOLIS -- Less than three weeks after sending a fifth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Kaare Vedvik, the Minnesota Vikings have cut the 25-year-old kicker/punter.

The Vikings also parted ways Saturday with former first-round draft pick Laquon Treadwell, who failed to carve out a role in Minnesota's offense in the three seasons after he was drafted 23rd overall in 2016.

After a preseason of uncertainty surrounding their specialists, the Vikings will go with Dan Bailey as their kicker, Matt Wile as the punter and rookie Austin Cutting at long-snapper. The hope, according to a source, is that the team will be able to sign Vedvik to the practice squad on Sunday if he clears waivers.

The Norwegian-born combo kicker was 12-of-13 on field goals during the past two preseasons in Baltimore before going 1-for-4 on such kicks with the Vikings. Upon arriving in Minnesota, Vikings coaches considered the idea of letting Vedvik handle both kicking and punting responsibilities, something he'd previously handled during his collegiate career at Marshall, although the difficulties in handling such a heavy workload -- especially for a rookie -- were noted.

Vedvik's struggles became more frequent during the final days of the preseason. In Minnesota's last practice before playing in Buffalo, Vedvik went 5-for-9 on field goals. Asked about what he's learned with handling kickers who struggle in the preseason, coach Mike Zimmer noted the role he needs to have in helping these players overcome hurdles.

"It's a good question," Zimmer said. "I guess the biggest thing is I've got to have more patience, probably."

Treadwell was coming off a 2018 campaign where he recorded his first touchdown as a pro, notching a career-high 302 receiving yards while leading the team in dropped passes. Minnesota opted not to pick up the receiver's fifth-year option, which would have cost the Vikings $10.162 million next season.

Instead, Minnesota incurs $2,506,360 in dead cap by releasing Treadwell prior to his fourth season, given the proration of his signing bonus ($1,356,360) and the guaranteed portion of his 2019 salary ($1.15 million).

According to a source with knowledge of the language in Treadwell's contract, there is an offset provision, which means if Treadwell is claimed off waivers, the guarantee owed by the Vikings will reduce by the amount the new team pays him.

The news of Treadwell's release doesn't come as a surprise given how the past three seasons have transpired. Minnesota attempted to trade Treadwell this offseason and at multiple points dating back to the 2018 season -- both on cut-down day and again toward the October trade deadline.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver never panned out to the level of expectations set forth when he was drafted in the first round as a big, physical outside receiver who also could line up in the slot and create mismatches while running underneath routes. Treadwell was passed up by others on the depth chart and failed to grab hold of the No. 3 receiver position behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Vikings haven't parted ways with many first-round picks prior to their fourth season. The last was wideout Troy Williamson, the No. 7 pick in the 2005 draft, whom the Vikings traded for a sixth-round pick after three seasons.

Among Minnesota's other notable cuts Saturday was Kyle Sloter, who had the highest preseason passer rating among quarterbacks with 40 or more attempts. Sloter was 39-of-51 passing in the preseason for 443 yards, four touchdowns, one interception and a 120.0 passer rating.

The Vikings also attempted to find a trade partner for Sloter on Saturday before releasing him at the deadline. The quarterback came to Minnesota in 2017 after he was waived by Denver, where he began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent. Sloter was quickly promoted from the practice squad to active roster due to a non-contact knee injury Sam Bradford suffered early in the 2017 season and spent the season as Case Keenum's backup.

Sloter never saw action in a regular season game in Minnesota but routinely put up big numbers in preseason outings. Despite an impressive stat line in those games, Sloter never took a second-team rep at quarterback, which is the role Sean Mannion assumes this season in Minnesota behind starter Kirk Cousins.

"I don't know that you guys know all the little details about everything, you just see how he goes and does the game," Zimmer said of Sloter's preseason performances. "He's got to get a lot better in a lot of the other parts of being a quarterback. Making the right checks, getting people in the right formation, making sure the motion is there, not missing the time clock when it's eight yards in front of you. There's a lot of things that he has to get better at if he wants to be the backup quarterback."

Earlier in the preseason, Zimmer critiqued Sloter's abilities in practice versus what he does in games. While preseason practices during July and August are open to the media, practices in season are not. According to multiple team sources, those practices played the biggest factor in Sloter not moving up the depth chart over the past three seasons. His struggles operating the huddle, getting the right playcall and into the right cadence along with his accuracy and decision-making hindered Sloter's ability to cement himself as Cousins' backup.