Unsung Hero: Nick Vigil Continues to Impress With a Pick-6
Much like Kyle, I didn’t know if I liked the Vikings signing Nick Vigil early in the off-season. When Anthony Barr continued to miss practice in camp and preseason games, I figured that our linebacking corps was doomed once again.
However, Vigil has not only stopped any bleeding that Barr’s absence could have started, but he has also performed very well. On Sunday in Arizona, he provided the lone Vikings touchdown in the second half. The score took away the momentum that the Cardinals had gathered going into halftime.
Nick Vigil’s Sunday Performance
The pick-6 to begin the second half of Sunday’s barnburner was a microcosm of Vigil’s presence. Even though he was just signed this off-season, he wears the green dot helmet. This means that he is the player that receives the headset communications from head coach Mike Zimmer on defense. This is impressive as fellow linebacker Eric Kendricks has been with the team since 2015. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Barr normally takes these responsibilities and the coaches want to keep things as close to normal as possible. Nevertheless, it shows that the team trusts Vigil.
It would have been a banner game had Vigil only contributed the pick-6. However, he was Minnesota’s sixth-highest graded defender according to Pro Football Focus. His 86.2 coverage grade was the highest among all Vikings defenders, and his seven tackles were third on the team. On top of all this, he added two “stops”, which PFF refers to as tackles that constitute as a failure for the offense.
This is only a continuation of last week’s game against the Bengals. Vigil is the eighth-highest graded defender on the Vikings. His 78.8 coverage grade is the highest among all defenders. And he has accumulated 15 tackles according to PFF, good enough for second on the team.
Nick Vigil is putting pressure on the Vikings once Anthony Barr is healthy. He is all over the field and seems to have a full grasp of the playbook. Although it may not be a huge concern for the 2021 season, Vigil may be forcing the team to make a difficult decision following the year.
Barr carries a $6.1 million cap number this season. Although the contract can be voided in 2022, Barr still will have a dead-cap hit of $9.9 million that year. Meanwhile, Vigil’s cap number this year is just north of $1.7 million. He isn’t signed beyond 2021, but even if he continues to impress, he won’t be re-signed anywhere near $9.9 million. It may be tough for the team to swallow that kind of money in letting Barr go, but Vigil would be kinder to the salary cap moving forward.
At worst, Nick Vigil is a solid LB3 once Barr returns. At best, he can show the team that he is worthy of taking over Barr’s role. While his highs may not be as high as what Barr can provide, he may have a high enough floor that may make taking Barr off the field for nickel packages worth considering. It’s a muddy situation, but Vigil at least gives the organization and fans confidence that he can pick up the slack if he needs to carry the load at linebacker.