EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings on Saturday announced they have traded defensive end Stephen Weatherly to the Denver Broncos.
The Vikings did not disclose terms of compensation for the sixth-year pro who had played primarily on special teams this season in his return to Minnesota.
Originally a seventh-round pick by the Vikings in 2016, Weatherly spent his first four seasons in Minnesota. He appeared in 49 games during that time, making seven starts and recording the first 3.0 sacks of his career in 2018. An additional 3.0 sacks followed in 2019.
Weatherly spent 2020 with Carolina, where he started all nine games he played for the Panthers before a season-ending injury.
He was part of a group of free agents who returned to Minnesota this offseason, but Weatherly only played 82 defensive snaps (20 percent) through the Vikings first six games of 2021.
Minnesota has relied heavily on Danielle Hunter, who returned from injury, and Everson Griffen, who re-joined the team after playing 2020 in Dallas and Detroit. Second-year pro D.J. Wonnum has been next in the rotation behind Hunter and Griffen.
Weatherly also contributed on special teams, playing 114 snaps this season (64 percent of Minnesota's snaps).
The Vikings (3-3) are on their bye in Week 7; the Broncos fell to 3-4 on the year with a loss Thursday to the Browns in Cleveland.
The exchange continued the relationship between Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Broncos General Manager George Paton, who was hired in Minnesota by Spielman in 2007. Paton held numerous roles on his way to becoming the Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel/Assistant General Manager.
Spielman fielded questions from media members on Tuesday, including about the possibility of trades before the Nov. 2 deadline. He said the Vikings would "monitor everything like we always do."
"I think we have, it's starting to show a little bit, we have some good depth where some teams may be looking at our depth, as well, that have inquired about some guys. So we'll just see how it all evolves," Spielman said. "The one thing I know is you want to make sure you have good enough depth, especially with 17 games, plus the postseason that you know you're going to have to deal with injuries and every team is going to have to deal with it at some point. Some are dealing with it right now. That's why they're looking for more depth, but you don't want to trade too many guys away."
View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of Nov. 29, 2021.
As for a trade to bring a new player in, Spielman said the Vikings would have to consider salary cap ramifications for this season and beyond. He also pointed out it can be harder in football than baseball or basketball for a player acquired midseason to make a big difference.
"It is hard when you do make trades for someone to come in, not only to learn a system, get acclimated to the locker room, get comfortable with everything. That takes some time," Spielman added. "Unlike other professional sports, whether it be baseball and sometimes basketball or other areas, this is such an 11-on-11 team game that it takes some time to create that chemistry."
"The way our defense kind of started out a little slow and the way you see our defense has really started to come together, especially over these last couple weeks and how well they're playing, I think the last two games we've created five turnovers," Spielman added. "Well, that's a bunch of guys playing together for the first time, where now they're getting in game situations, and you see them getting more and more comfortable, like I said, not only with the scheme but with each other, knowing where each other's going to be on the field, and so on and so forth. So we'll always keep an open eye on things."