The Minnesota Vikings took a big step toward improving their inconsistent defense by adding defensive tackle Linval Joseph in free agency.
The Vikings announced the signing via Twitter:
It's official! Linval Joseph is a Viking. pic.twitter.com/MpS0WLUn3k— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) March 12, 2014
Linval Joseph: "Minnesota was on top for me. I'm glad to be a Viking." pic.twitter.com/rUr3JWkJTF— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) March 12, 2014
Adam Schefter of ESPN initially provided the details of the new contract Tuesday:
Vikings gave former Giants DT Linval Joseph a 5-yr, $31.5 million deal, per source. Big loss for NYG.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2014
The former New York Giants star was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft but did not contribute much in his rookie year. That changed quickly as the 6'4", 323-pound tackle was inserted into the starting lineup in his second season, which ended with a victory in Super Bowl XLVI.
Over the next two years with the organization, Joseph started 31 games and totaled 118 tackles and seven sacks. He was an anchor in the middle of the defense for the Giants, and his ability to take on blockers allowed the rest of the players in the unit to make tackles.
As Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post notes, the Giants will surely miss the 25-year-old player:
This one will sting a little for the Giants. RT @alexmarvez: Vikings agree to terms with DT Linval Joseph.— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) March 11, 2014
Pro Football Focus gave him a quality grade, noting his strength against the run:
The Vikings likely envision a future with Joseph playing alongside last year's first-round pick Sharrif Floyd in the defensive line. What is clear is that something needs to change in Minnesota after the squad finished last in the NFL with 30 points allowed per game.
While the run defense was just about average as the No. 16-ranked unit in the league, the pass defense was the big issue as it was ranked No. 31. Still, Joseph can help in both situations with his strength and ability to penetrate into the backfield.
Minnesota hopes that this addition and a scheme change under new coach Mike Zimmer could be enough to turn around the team that finished 5-10-1 in 2013. The former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator previously discussed his team's approach in free agency, via Mark Craig of the Minnesota Star Tribune:
We’ve got a lot of holes to fill, but we want to be smart with how we use the money. We don’t want to go crazy in this thing.
I think if we go out and spend a whole bunch of money now, we’d be upset two years from now because some of them didn’t work out. So we’re going to be real diligent in how we approach this and making sure that not only is it best for next year, but best for the long run, too.
It appears that he felt Joseph was the perfect fit for this unit. The team also recently re-signed defensive end Everson Griffen to a five-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
DE Everson Griffen is re-signing with the Vikings on a huge 5-year deal, per source— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2014
With the No. 8 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, the Vikings will hope to continue adding impact players that could help the squad get back to the postseason.
This is a team that made the playoffs as recently as 2012, largely behind Adrian Peterson. If the Vikings can establish some consistency at the quarterback position and provide the starter with more weapons, the roster could surprise people in 2014.
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