Joseph had perfect idol for new role with Vikings

Defensive tackle Linval Joseph officially signed a five-year contract with Minnesota for a reported $31.5 million on Wednesday.

Andrew Weber/Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Among the most gregarious players to step inside the Minnesota Vikings’ locker room in recent years, few could match up with Pat Williams’ presence — both physically and in spirit.

Williams was every bit of 330 pounds, despite his listed weight of 317 pounds. Big was also a good description for his loquaciousness. Williams, with his Louisiana drawl, loved to talk.

Minnesota has been searching for the same authority — at least in the middle of its defensive line — since Williams was not brought back after the 2010 season.

The Vikings hope they finally found their replacement in Linval Joseph, at least on the field.

"No, I’m not a trash talker; not at all," Joseph said Wednesday after he officially signed a five-year contract with Minnesota for a reported $31.5 million.

The other parts of Williams, Joseph plans to duplicate to the best of his ability.

"Pat made a lot of plays as a Viking, and he was just loved around here," Joseph said. "And I want to be the same way."

Joseph, 25, was lured away from the New York Giants in the opening hours of free agency on Tuesday. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound behemoth is seemingly a fit in the middle of new Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer’s defensive line.

A three-year starter for New York, Joseph has always been a big guy, just like Williams. So naturally, growing up Joseph, who is from the Virgin Islands and said he really started to focus on football as a sophomore in high school, studied Williams.

"Pat was a physical guy; he liked to slam guys," Joseph said. "I watched him a lot . . . His attitude. He wanted to show everybody that he’s good, he still have it. He wanted to show that he’s an all-time great. He had something to prove from where he started to where he finished."

Williams was signed away from another New York team — the Buffalo Bills — as a free agent by the Vikings in 2005 and went on to anchor Minnesota’s defensive line for six seasons. Joseph, who has started the past three seasons for the Giants, hopes to replicate Williams’ success.

As a prospective draft pick out of East Carolina in 2010, Joseph visited the Vikings, who passed on him to select cornerback Chris Cook in the second round. By the time Minnesota came up again in the second, Joseph had been selected by New York and the Vikings picked Toby Gerhart.

Joseph said not much has changed at the team’s facilities since he visited — except for the coach.

"I like the head coach," Joseph said. "He’s a strong guy just like (Giants coach Tom) Coughlin and I think we’re going to get along well."

Minnesota’s interest was real this time around. Joseph said an offer from New York was "nowhere near the Vikings’" number. He said his agent had heard from the Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons, but Minnesota was "definitely on top."

"Because they reached out before anybody else did," Joseph said. "I played at East Carolina. We had the same colors and I’m back in purple and gold."

Now in purple and gold, Joseph feels the transition will be seamless and he’s ready to fill the run-stopping void missing since Williams wasn’t retained.

"I have size, I have speed, I have smarts and I make plays," Joseph said. "End of the day, that’s what this game is about, making plays."

Follow Brian Hall on Twitter