Vikings’ Michael Pierce confident about replacing Linval Joseph at nose tackle
EAGAN, Minn. -- Linval Joseph’s replacement vows to be up for the challenge.
The Vikings on March 13 released the two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle in a salary-cap move. On Wednesday, they agreed to a three-year, $27 million contract with Baltimore free-agent nose tackle Michael Pierce.
“With Linval leaving, I think I can pick up where he left off and continue to grow my game as well,’’ Pierce said in a conference call Friday.
Pierce said he first considered joining the Vikings after they hired Imarjaye Albury, a friend of his, on Feb. 20 as assistant defensive line coach. He said the deal was sealed after he spoke this week to Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, head coach Mike Zimmer and co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Andre Patterson.
“I’m super, super thankful to be a part of the Vikings organization,’’ said Pierce, who was undrafted out of Samford in 2016 and played four seasons with the Ravens.
The 6-foot, 340-pound Pierce said he knows plenty about Vikings history, including many of the top defensive linemen Patterson has coached. He said stopping the run “is my calling card,’’ but believes he can expand his game under Patterson.
“At this point in my career, it’s time to blossom and time to make some strides,’’ said Pierce, who started 30 of the 60 games he played for the Ravens, including all 14 he played in 2019. “(Patterson) expressed to me how he helped Linval grow his game. He was in a similar position when he signed with the team, like myself.’’
Joseph signed as a free agent in 2014, and made Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2017. He agreed to a two-year, $17 million contract this week with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Sendejo to Browns
Andrew Sendejo is the latest Vikings defensive back to move on.
The free-agent safety agreed to a one-year, $2.25 million contract with Cleveland. He will be reunited with Kevin Stefanski, a longtime Minnesota assistant before this year becoming the Browns’ head coach.
The Vikings were interested in re-signing Sendejo, who played most of the past decade with them.
Sendejo becomes the fifth defensive back to have departed the Vikings in a week. They released starting cornerback Xavier Rhodes,and lost cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander and safety Jayron Kearse in free agency.
Sendejo played for the Vikings from 2011-18. After they did not pick up his $5.5 million option for 2019, he signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal with Philadelphia. After the Eagles waived him in November, the Vikings claimed him and he played in six games, starting two.
The Vikings return starting strong safety Harrison Smith and last Monday put the $11.441 million franchise tag on starting free safety Anthony Harris. The Vikings could keep Harris on the tag, sign him to a long-term deal, trade him or withdraw the tag and get a compensatory draft pick next year.
The Vikings have significant salary-cap issues. Sources said Harris, who played under a one-year $3.095 million contract last year as a free agent, wants to stay in Minnesota but wants the security of a long-term deal.
- The Vikings and the Wilf family ownership group announced they will donate $500,000 for causes to fight the coronavirus. It was announced that much of the money will go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, which has had to close centers, and to the Minnesota Disaster Recovery fund for Coronavirus.
- The contract of kicker Dan Bailey, who agreed to re-sign Thursday, is worth $8.95 million over three years. He can earn up to another $3 million with incentives. His deal includes $6 million guaranteed, including a $3.15 million signing bonus. He has a cap number of $1.1 million for 2020.
- The one-year contract Vikings backup quarterback Sean Mannion agreed to is worth $1.047 million. It includes a $910,000 base salary and a $137,500 signing bonus.
- Defensive end Stephen Weatherly, who left the Vikings as a free agent to sign a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Carolina, will be reunited with his former Minnesota teammate, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. “I think that’s dope,’’ Weatherly said.