When the NFL season came to a conclusion, there were a baker’s dozen of former Minnesota Gophers on NFL rosters. Here's a look at how each former Minnesota player fared in the 2021 regular season.
Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Taken No. 27 overall in the NFL draft, Bateman’s rookie season got off to a late start as he was sidelined due to a groin injury until Week 6. In 12 games with the Ravens, Bateman had 46 catches on 67 targets for 515 yards with one touchdown, which came in Week 16 at Cincinnati. He finished third on Baltimore in receptions and yards behind a couple of 1,000-yard receivers in Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. Bateman’s best game came in Week 14 at Cleveland when he had seven catches for 103 yards.
Briean Boddy-Calhoun, CB, Tennessee Titans
Boddy-Calhoun was on Tennessee’s practice squad all season but did not get elevated to the active roster for any game. He’s played in just four games – with three different teams (Houston, Indianapolis, San Francisco) over the last four seasons.
De’Vondre Campbell, LB, Green Bay Packers
Campbell might have been one of the best free-agent signings in the offseason, especially when you consider value. After five productive years in Atlanta and Arizona, Campbell signed what equates to a one-year, $2 million contract with Green Bay. All Campbell did for the Packers in the regular season is lead the team in tackles – by over 50! – with a career-high 146, which placed him seventh in the NFL. Campbell played in 16 of 17 games (he sat out the season finale) while appearing on every defensive snap in 12 of those. Campbell also had six tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, five passes defensed, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Blake Cashman, LB, New York Jets
Cashman remains injury plagued in the NFL. He played in just three games in 2021 after seeing action in four contests in 2020 and seven in 2019 after being selected in the fifth round of the draft. Cashman played in the season opener at Carolina but lasted just eight special teams snaps. He was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury days later. Cashman returned and played 15 special teams snaps in Week 5 and then in Week 7 had 33 defensive snaps, recording three tackles, against New England. A groin injury, however, necessitated another trip to IR, which officially ended his season. Interestingly, Cashman played all three of his 2021 games away from the Meadowlands.
Carter Coughlin, LB, New York Giants
Playing mostly on special teams for the Giants, Couglin injured his ankle in practice in late October and was placed on injured reserve. Although it was thought he’d be sidelined for only a few weeks, Coughlin never returned to the active roster. In seven games, Coughlin had six tackles. He played in just 39 defensive snaps – he had a high of 12 in Week 6 vs. the Rams – but 159 on special teams (86% of the snaps in those seven contests).
Tyler Johnson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Johnson’s production increased greatly in Year 2, although he was still just the eighth-most targeted player on the Bucs. Playing in all 17 games, with three starts, Johnson had 36 receptions on 55 targets for 360 yards. However, he did not have any touchdowns after recording two on just 12 catches as a rookie. He had a season-high five catches twice (Week 8 at New Orleans and Week 18 vs. Carolina) and his 65 yards vs. the Saints were hit tops on the year. Johnson was in on 52% of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps, nearly double of what he had in 2020.
Kamal Martin, LB, Carolina Panthers
A fifth-round pick by Green Bay in 2020, Martin was waived in late August by the Packers and not picked up by Carolina until early October. He played in six games for the Panthers. Although starting one game – Week 17 – Martin mainly played on special teams, getting 95 snaps there compared to just 11 on defense. He finished with two tackles.
Eric Murray, S, Houston Texans
Murray played in 16 games for the Texans and started 11 at safety. He finished fifth on the team with a career-high 76 tackles. He also recorded four passes defensed, his most in a season since he had five in 2017 with Kansas City. Murray also notched the second interception of his career, picking off Miami’s Jacoby Brissett in Week 9. His other pick came in 2018. In Week 11, Murray tied his career high with 11 tackles in a win over Tennessee.
Rodney Smith, RB, Detroit Lions
Smith began the season with Carolina’s practice squad. He got elevated to the active roster on gamedays twice. In a Week 4 loss at Dallas, he played 26 snaps (37%) and caught all five targets directed his way for 48 yards. The following week in a home loss to Philadelphia, Smith was in on 11 plays (15%) but did not get a touch or target. He was cut the next day and in mid-November signed to Tennessee’s practice squad. However, he lasted there about two weeks before being signed by the Lions to their practice squad.
Benjamin St-Juste, CB, Washington Football Team
A third-round pick, concussions were an unfortunate part of St-Juste’s rookie season. He missed Washington’s fourth game after suffering one in Week 3, then missed more time after another concussion in Week 8. He returned in Week 11 but played limited time on special teams in that game and the following week before heading to injured reserve due to yet another concussion he got in the Week 11 Monday night affair against Seattle. St-Juste finished with 26 tackles, three passes defensed and a tackle for loss – all of which came in his first seven games. He played nearly every snap on defense in Weeks 7 and 8 (98% and 96%). Overall, he was in on 318 defensive snaps and 94 on special teams.
Maxx Williams, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Williams’ season ended abruptly after he tore his ACL in a Week 5 game against San Francisco. After not catching a pass and being targeted only once in Arizona’s opener, Williams caught every target thrown his way in his final four games – 16. He finished with 16 receptions for 193 yards with a touchdown. In Week 2, one game after being shutout in the stat book, Williams had seven catches for 94 yards – both career highs. He also had three catches for 66 yards in Week 4 vs. the Los Angeles Rams, including a 14-yard score.
Damien Wilson, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Like Campbell, Wilson might just have been an underrated – and overperforming – signing. Also like Campbell, Wilson got a one-year, $2 million contract from the Jaguars. He started all 17 games, finishing with a career-high 106 tackles, good for second on the team, with five TFL, five PD, five QB hits, three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. The pick was the first of his career and came in Jacksonville’s surprising stomping of Indianapolis in Week 18. Wilson twice posted double-digits in tackles: 12 in Week 6 vs. Miami and 10 in Week 14 at Tennessee. He played in 78% of the Jags’ defensive snaps, also a career high.
Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The second-year safety missed four games due to injuries but still nearly matched his tackles total from his rookie season, when he played in all 16 games. Starting all 13 games in which he appeared, Winfield recorded 88 tackles with four tackles for loss, six passes defensed, two interceptions, three QB hits and three fumbles recovered. In Week 14 against Washington, he recorded 11 tackles and two TFL. He also had 10 tackles at Atlanta in Week 13.
Ryan Santoso, K: Dealt from the Giants to Carolina for a conditional seventh-round pick before the start of the season, Santoso kicked in the season opener for the Panthers, a 19-14 win over the Jets. He made two short field goals and 1 of 2 extra-point attempts. Waived by Carolina two days after that game, he was added to Tennessee’s practice squad but he lasted only three days with the Titans. Detroit signed him Sept. 22 to its practice squad. Santoso was elevated to the active roster in Week 3 and 4 and made his lone field-goal attempt and all three extra-point attempts. He was back on the Lions gameday roster in Week 10 but missed an extra-point attempt and badly botched a field-goal attempt in overtime, which would have given Detroit its first win. He was cut two days later. Santoso was signed to the Rams’ practice squad in mid-December but released Jan. 4.
Chris Williamson, CB: A seventh-round pick of the Giants in 2020, Williamson spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad before being released in early December. He signed with Atlanta, which released him before the season began then brought him back to the practice squad. Williamson was signed to the active roster Nov. 9 and appeared in five games with one start. He played in 55 defensive snaps, with a high of 24 in a Week 7 win vs. Miami, and 24 special teams snaps. Williamson recorded five tackles. He was waived Nov. 30 and re-signed to the practice squad before being released a week later. Detroit signed him to its practice squad Dec. 14 but he was released Dec. 28.