The Minnesota Vikings have reportedly signed the man who was cut by the Chicago Bears when the team made room for Armon Watts in September.
That’s the NFL’s circle of life, and Khyiris Tonga is now a member of the Vikings, according to his agent David Canter.
Tonga is a large human, standing 6’4″ and weighing over 320 pounds. A nose tackle, Tonga appears to be heading for the Vikings active roster, at least for a while. He lived on the Atlanta Falcons practice squad until Tuesday, switching NFC teams to serve as a backup with Ross Blacklock to Harrison Phillips, the Vikings starter.
The Chicago Bears selected Tonga in the 7th Round of the 2021 NFL Draft, nine picks before the famous “Mr. Irrevlevant” pick. And for a 7th-Rounder, Tonga actually saw ample playing time with the Bears in 2021, participating in 216 defensive snaps — or about one-quarter of the action. He logged 24 total tackles, a tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery.
But when Chicago scooped the aforementioned Watts following Minnesota’s release of the defender in August, Tonga was the odd man out. He ended up with the Falcons practice squad and hasn’t seen regular season action in 2022.
That could change for the Vikings.
While Tonga isn’t guaranteed to remain on the Vikings gameday roster, Minnesota needs help stopping the run. Through four weeks, the Vikings run defense ranks 27th in the NFL per DVOA, also known as sixth-worst. Depending on the BYU product’s development and maturation, he could eventually help the Vikings stop the run. He has the size for it.
Pro Football Focus scored Tonga’s rookie campaign with a 52.1 grade. Via the pass rush, his grade was 60.4, and run defense dropped to 54.1. Tonga was the primary backup to former Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who retired in July.
Furthermore, on Tuesday, the Vikings placed 1st-Round rookie Lewis Cine on injured reserve with a broken leg. The franchise also activated linebacker Ryan Connelly from the Physically Unable to Perform List and released defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman and wide receiver Travis Toivonen.
Tonga, 26, was teammates with San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner and New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson at BYU.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).