Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden is known for his work with quarterbacks, and his newest pupil is Kyle Sloter.
In January, the Raiders signed Sloter, who played for the Vikings from 2017-18. Gruden said in a phone interview Thursday that he is intrigued with Sloter, who now has been with six NFL teams since going undrafted in 2017. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game.
“Well, we’re always interested in quarterbacks,” Gruden said. “So, I’m always going to be guilty of that. He had some really good preseason games, and we want to see where he is. He came in and had a good workout for us, and we saw things we liked, and we’ll see what happens.”
Gruden, a former quarterback at the University of Dayton, has gained acclaim working with signal callers in 22 years as an NFL assistant and head coach. His 2009-17 tenure as an ESPN analyst included working with draft prospects on the show “Jon Gruden’s QB Camp.”
“I’m excited about the opportunity (with the Raiders),” Sloter wrote in a text message. “They made me feel wanted, and I think that as a guy still looking for his first opportunity, that’s all you can ask for. I think I’m most excited about learning from Coach Gruden and (Raiders offensive coordinator Greg) Olson.”
The Raiders have three other quarterbacks under contract for 2021: starter Derek Carr, and backups Marcus Mariota and Nathan Peterman. But Gruden said Sloter will be given a fair shot.
“It’s going to be an uphill battle for him, but he’s got his foot in the door, and we’ll see what happens in the next few months,” Gruden said.
Undrafted in 2017 out of Northern Colorado, Sloter put up some good preseason stats for Denver but was waived. He joined the Vikings’ practice squad before being promoted to the 53-man roster in Week 2 for the rest of the 2017 season. He spent all of 2018 on the active roster.
Sloter had a number of solid preseason game performances for the Vikings in 2018 and 2019. But he was waived after the 2019 preseason, when the Vikings elected to keep just two quarterbacks, and have Sean Mannion back up Kirk Cousins.
Sloter spent the rest of 2019 on Arizona’s practice squad and then Detroit’s active roster. He spent time in 2020 on Chicago’s practice squad.
“I feel like I’m mentally a much different player than I was during my time with the Vikings,” Sloter wrote. “I loved my time in Minnesota. My old teammates are still some of my best friends. … Minnesota has a special place in my heart.”
The Vikings have interest in retaining reserve running back Mike Boone, but it’s not certain if they will tender the restricted free agent, a source said.
According to salary-cap analyst Jason Fitzgerald, the expected tender amounts for restricted free agents will be in the range of $2.133 million for right of first refusal, $2.183 million for right of first refusal and possible compensation at the player’s original draft round, $3.384 million for a second-round tender and $4.766 million for a first-round tender.
The Vikings might consider $2.133 million too much to pay Boone, who made $750,000 last season, when he had 11 rushes for 59 yards. They could offer a lesser amount, but Boone could turn that down and test the market as an unrestricted free agent.
Fixing the 'D'
The Vikings head into free agency and the April 29-May 1 draft with a primary goal being to fix a shaky defense. So how do they do it?
“I’d say get our core players back, add some players in free agency and depth, and get better overall on the defensive side from a personnel standpoint,” general manager Rick Spielman said. “Then continue to develop the young guys we drafted last year.’’
The Vikings, who were No. 29 in the NFL in scoring defense and No 27 in total defense in 2020, are expected to get back defensive end Danielle Hunter (neck surgery) and nose tackle Michael Pierce (coronavirus opt out) after both missed all of last season. They also were without injured linebackers Anthony Barr for the final 14 games and Eric Kendricks for the last five.