Vikings agree to deal with free-agent DT Joseph
Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer couldn’t resist shopping on the first day of free agency to shore up the Minnesota Vikings’ defense.
The Vikings agreed to terms with former New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph, according to FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez. The deal, according to FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo, is expected to be in the $6 million range, but terms have not been announced.
Spielman and Zimmer both spoke about the need to find bargains in free agency, but almost 90 minutes after NFL league year and free agency started, Minnesota shored up the defensive line.
Joseph, 25, fills a big need for Minnesota in the middle of the defensive line. The Vikings released underachieving nose tackle Letroy Guoin last week and also have longtime stalwart Kevin Williams and Fred Evans as unrestricted free agents.
Last year’s first-round draft pick, Sharrif Floyd, is expected to start in Williams’ place. Zimmer’s defenses call for strong defensive tackle play and Minnesota made Joseph a priority in the opening of free agency.
Joseph (6-foot-4, 323 pounds) adds a big body that has been missing for the Vikings since Pat Williams was not brought back in 2011. Minnesota tried to fill the nose tackle spot with the Remi Ayodele, who lasted only one season, and the undersized Guion. The Vikings’ defense began to fall off, especially against the run.
A second-round draft pick in 2010 by New York, Joseph is a run-stopping force and also has the quickness and strength to penetrate and collapse the pocket. He’s started at least 15 games each of the past three seasons for the Giants, and has 59 tackles each of the past two seasons. He’s had nine sacks the past three seasons, with two forced fumbles.
Berger returns again: Minnesota also added insurance along the offensive line on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with Joe Berger, according to multiple reports.
Berger, 31, has spent the past three seasons as a backup center and guard for the Vikings, starting nine games over that span. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported it was a one-year deal with Berger; terms were not announced.
Minnesota still has a starting spot at left guard open with Charlie Johnson being an unrestricted free agent. The team also had an unsettled backup situation with Berger reaching unrestricted free agency.
The Vikings also have second-year guard Jeff Baca with John Sullivan set as the starting center and Brandon Fusco returning as the starting right guard.
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