Vikings sign free-agent DL Tom Johnson
General manager Rick Spielman said the Minnesota Vikings weren’t done after a busy opening week of free agency.
Minnesota made its first move of the second week on Thursday, signing a one-year, $845,000 contract with free-agent defensive lineman Tom Johnson, a source told FOXSportsNorth.com. Johnson, 29, played in 40 games the past three seasons as a reserve lineman for the New Orleans Saints.
Johnson met with the Vikings, including defensive line coach Andre Patterson, on Thursday in Minnesota and adds more depth to the defensive line for new coach Mike Zimmer’s defense. The Vikings signed nose tackle Linval Joseph last week and re-signed defensive end Everson Griffen.
At 288 pounds, Johnson played defensive end in New Orleans’ 3-4 defense. He would move inside in the Vikings’ 4-3 scheme and adds a veteran to go with Sharrif Floyd, last year’s first-round pick who is expected to become a full-time starter at defensive tackle.
Speaking with reporters last week, Spielman said the team was still monitoring the free-agent market and would be looking for more depth along the defensive line.
"Ideally I know you’d like to have eight guys," Spielman said. "We were able to sign Fred Evans back to a one-year deal. But ideally you’d like to have eight guys that you know are going to be active on game day that you can rotate in and out of there. And I know one thing that coach Zimmer really emphasizes, he wants guys that can stop the run but we need to get some guys to make sure we’re able to put pressure on the quarterback."
Johnson had 12 tackles and two sacks last season in a part-time role with the Saints. In three NFL seasons, he has 55 tackles and five sacks.
His long trip to the NFL has included stops with teams in NFL Europe, the Arena Football League and Canadian Football League. Johnson was undrafted out of Southern Mississippi and participated in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006 and was assigned to the Cologne Centurions of the now-defunct NFL Europe.
He played with the Philadelphia Soul in the AFL in 2008 and the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL in 2009 before signing with New Orleans.
The signing of Johnson likely eliminates a possible return to Minnesota by longtime stalwart defensive tackle Kevin Williams. Williams, 33, was a five-time All-Pro in 11 seasons with the Vikings. An unrestricted free agent, Williams started 15 games for Minnesota last season.
"I’ve talked to his agent a few days ago," Spielman said of Williams last week. "We’re continuing to monitor that. There’s no decision that’s been made. I told him we’d leave it open. But we were trying to address some other needs that we definitely wanted to get done first. But there’s no decision that’s been made on Kevin Williams at this point."
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