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Vikings acquire Ross Blacklock to replace waived Armon Watts, trade Jesse Davis

The moves, coming on the day NFL rosters had to be trimmed to the regular-season limit of 53, saved the Vikings about $2.5 million on the salary cap.

NFL: Houston Texas Training Camp
Houston Texans defensive tackle Ross Blacklock signs autographs on Aug. 5 after training camp at the Texans practice facility in Houston.
Maria Lysaker / USA Today Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings made two trades on Tuesday. One was a surprise and one wasn’t.

In the shocker, Minnesota waived Armon Watts, listed as a first-team defensive end, and acquired Ross Blacklock from Houston to presumably take his place. The Vikings sent the Texans a 2023 sixth-round draft pick and got a 2023 seventh-round selection in addition to Blacklock, a second-round pick in 2020 out of Texas Christian. Blacklock is considered to have plenty of potential but has started just three of the 29 NFL games he has played.

The Vikings also sent guard Jesse Davis to Pittsburgh for a 2025 conditional seventh-round pick. That was not a surprise since the veteran had lost the starting right guard job to rookie Ed Ingram and had missed some time in training camp to rest his surgically repaired right knee.

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The moves, coming on the day NFL rosters had to be trimmed to the regular-season limit of 53, saved the Vikings about $2.5 million on the salary cap. They saved $1.2 million in the deal with the Texans and at least $1.25 million in the one with the Steelers.

Money was a factor in Minnesota’s decision to waive Watts and acquire Blacklock. Watts got a salary escalator for his play last year to make his base salary this season a nonguaranteed $2.54 million. The Vikings got that amount off their cap and then picked up Blacklock, who has a base salary of $1.332 million.

Watts played the past three seasons for Minnesota, and had five sacks while starting nine of the 17 games he played in 2021. But the Vikings, under first-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell, apparently were uncertain about Watts as a starter. In the second preseason game, on Aug. 20 against San Francisco, Watts was the only player listed first on the depth chart to play since the Vikings wanted to get a longer look at him.

The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Blacklock, who is from the Houston suburb of Missouri City, had mixed reactions when he learned of the trade.

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“It’s hard,’’ he told Pro Football Network. “This is always going to be home for me. The trade, it is what it is. It’s an opportunity to go to another place. I’m excited to take it forward and go to Minnesota.”

Davis, who had been first on the depth chart, became a candidate to be dealt after losing his job to Ingram. Davis had been signed in March to likely be a starter but the Vikings then selected Ingram in the second-round from LSU and he developed quickly. Also, Davis missed time in training camp to rest his surgically repaired right knee.

Davis signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Vikings that had a void year added. He got a $1.5 million signing bonus, which was divided on the cap between 2022 and 2023. That remains on Minnesota’s cap, as does Davis’ $50,000 workout bonus. But the Vikings were able to send to Pittsburgh his $1.25 million base salary for 2022 as well as $200,000 in potential game bonuses.

Ingram is expected to be the only rookie in the starting lineup when the Vikings open the season Sept. 11 against Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium. Safety Lewis Cine, a first-round pick, is expected to be a backup to Camryn Bynum and cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. a backup to Cameron Dantzler.

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