The Ravens capitalized quickly on Kaare Vedvik’s stellar preseason debut, trading the back-up kicker to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday for an unspecified draft pick.
Vedvik will be a candidate to kick and punt for the Vikings, who, according to ESPN, sent a 2020 fifth-rounder to the Ravens in return. The last kicker to be dealt for such a high pick was Pete Stoyanovich in 1996.
The Ravens had no job to offer the 25-year-old Vedvik with Justin Tucker and Sam Koch locked in as their kicker and punter, respectively. So they hoped Vedvik, who had his 2018 season wiped out after he was assaulted in downtown Baltimore, would kick impressively enough to facilitate a trade. He fulfilled their wishes with a spectacular performance Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, making all four of his field-goal attempts and booming punts of 53 and 58 yards.
“I’m really fired up for Kaare,” Ravens special teams coach Chris Horton said Sunday. “Like I told you guys before, Kaare was right on schedule. He was ready when we needed him to be. [Assistant special teams] Coach [Randy] Brown and myself, we did a great job getting him ready for this opportunity, and he went out Thursday night and had an awesome night. … He deserves it, after everything he’s been through. What an opportunity for him.”
Vedvik began practice with the Ravens on Sunday afternoon but left the field after he was informed of the trade, which is pending a physical.
“One of our scouts came over and basically shut Kaare down for the day; he said, ‘You’re not ours anymore,’ ” Tucker recalled. “For that to happen in the middle of practice, it’s pretty wild. You don’t see that frequently, especially with a specialist. … But to be able to share in that moment and see the look on Kaare’s face, it was totally priceless.”
The trade brought a swift and upbeat ending to one of the team’s most fascinating stories from the last year. The Ravens signed the former soccer player from Norway as an undrafted free agent in 2018, and he quickly became a sensation, making eight of nine field-goal attempts in the preseason and routinely hitting from beyond 50 yards in practice. The Ravens were optimistic they could trade him as the season approached, but their plans and Vedvik’s were derailed when he suffered an early-morning assault in East Baltimore that sent him to Maryland Shock Trauma Center for treatment.
He told police he could not remember how the incident unfolded, and his injuries pushed him to the nonfootball injury list, where he remained for the entire 2018 season.
Tucker had recognized his young teammate’s gifts after watching him kick just a few balls, and he agonized with Vedvik through his recovery.
“Kaare was fighting through a lot,” he said. “We couldn’t be more proud of Kaare the football player … but I think we’re all more proud of Kaare the person, taking a horrible situation and turning it into something really, really positive. I think that’s the coolest thing about Kaare’s story that he’s writing right now. He hasn’t changed who he is; he’s the same positive, happy guy.”
Vedvik, who learned to kick a football by watching YouTube videos, returned to the practice field this spring, hoping to recreate his fairy-tale rise of the previous year. He did not always kick accurately during offseason workouts but quickly thrust himself back into the national spotlight with his performance against the Jaguars.
“It was a very, very emotional night … just given everything that happened,” Vedvik said after the game.
He said he gave little thought to the possibility of a trade, but with multiple teams desperate to find a starting kicker, speculation quickly escalated.
The Vikings, with veteran Dan Bailey as their incumbent kicker, were one of several reported suitors.
Asked if Vedvik can handle both kicking and punting duties, Horton said: “Did you watch the game Thursday night? … He’s prepared himself; he’s a rare guy.”
Tucker and Koch worked with him extensively, and Vedvik said he felt he was attending the world’s best graduate school for special teams. The Ravens have prided themselves on developing free-agent kickers who make good in other cities, with Wil Lutz of the New Orleans Saints the most recent example.
“It’s been really good for us as well,” Tucker said. “We get to dive into the details with a different perspective and the fact we’re able to … help Kaare along in that way is really special to us. And then I really want to emphasize that Kaare did an excellent job of taking the reins while he was here and making himself into an NFL kicker.”
Several Ravens coaches, including John Harbaugh, shared condolences for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, who died Sunday morning at age 62. “Darryl was a close friend of my dad and loved by our family,” Harbaugh said in a statement. “He was the epitome of a man.” … Gov. Larry Hogan visited practice on Sunday, speaking with Harbaugh and Ravens president Dick Cass among others. The Ravens also hosted 70 Baltimore-area teams for youth football day.