The Vikings have been wheeling and dealing in the trenches ahead of the 2022 season. In addition to trading backup offensive lineman Jesse Davis to the Steelers, Minnesota on Tuesday released starting defensive lineman Armon Watts and acquired former second-round draft pick Ross Blacklock from the Texans, as the team announced.
Watts, 26, was a surprise casualty of final cuts after starting nine games in 2021 and exiting the preseason as one of the Vikings' expected first-teamers along the defensive line. A year after logging a career-best 46 tackles, five sacks and 10 quarterback hits, his release -- which comes three years after Minnesota made him a sixth-round pick -- saves the team nearly $2.6 million.
Blacklock enters as Watts' presumptive replacement along the team's new 3-4 front, just two years after the Texans drafted him 40th overall out of TCU. The 24-year-old primarily played defensive tackle in Houston, where he served as a backup to Maliek Collins. After a quiet rookie season, he saw increased snaps in 2021, finishing with 22 tackles, two sacks and six QB hits. Most recently, he sat out the Texans' preseason finale while recovering from a foot injury.
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The Vikings sent a 2023 sixth-round pick to the Texans in exchange for Blacklock and a 2023 seventh-rounder, while netting a 2025 conditional seventh-rounder by dealing Davis, the reserve offensive guard, to Pittsburgh.