I was off being a pallbearer in Toronto when the NFL’s free agency period started, so I didn’t get caught up on the early moves until much later in the day. As far as the Vikings were concerned, the two biggest moves were backup running back Toby Gerhart signing a three-year, $10.5 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars and former Giant defensive tackle Linval Joseph signing a five-year, $31.5 million deal with the Vikings:
Linval Joseph is 25 years old, and will turn 26 years old midway through the season. He doesn’t have extraordinary statistics that you would more likely see come from an undertackle like Henry Melton or Kevin Williams, but he does plug the run extremely well. He has had 9.0 sacks in the previous three years, which is more than what fellow 1-tech and previous Vikings Pat Williams was able to do in any three-year stretch with the Vikings.
Linval Joseph is unique, in that at 328-pounds, he could have played 3-technique coming out of college. He has a good first step and is both strong and quick with a good understanding of leverage, though was weak at consistently lowering his pads coming out of East Carolina.
He is supposed to be good for a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme because of his ability to anchor, length (with astonishing 34.5″ arms) and quickness, although the Giants have almost exclusively used him in a one-gap role.
If Joseph is as good as hoped for, it will make a huge difference to the Vikings’ defensive line, which has never regained the form it had with “Fat Pat” at the nose. The signing may make it less likely that Kevin Williams returns to the Purple, as many were assuming he could slide over to nose tackle (having had a huge game in that spot last season, when both Letroy Guion and Fred Evans were injured). Williams had said he wasn’t interested in playing the nose, and is an unrestricted free agent.
Also looking for the right contract (as in “pay me”), former Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen is still unsigned. He’d been rumoured to be looking at a deal with Denver, but the Broncos may be more interested in DeMarcus Ware, who is also a free agent this season. The Bears and the Seahawks are also said to be talking with Allen’s agent. Allen hinted that he’d retire rather than play as a situational pass rusher, but Andrew Krammer thinks that’s bluff: “Why I won’t believe Jared Allen would retire: that all-time sack total means too much to him. That list in his locker said so.” Allen kept a regularly updated list in his locker showing where he ranked in the all-time totals.