The Minnesota Vikings have been active in free agency over the last few years. In that time, they've hit on certain signings but failed with others. Many remember the failures more so than the great ones, so as a change of pace, here are the five best free agent signings by the Vikings since 2010.
5. FB Jerome Felton
The Vikings signed Jerome Felton to a one-year, $700,000 contract in March of 2012 as a relatively unknown player. He spent the first three years of his NFL career with the Detroit Lions before splitting the 2011 season with the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts. He had a reputation as a blocker first type of fullback which became more apparent when he was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career in 2012. He had no carries and just three catches for 35 yards but was credited for having a big impact on Adrian Peterson’s near-record setting, 2,097-yard rushing season. Felton re-signed with the Vikings to a three-year contract in 2013 but did not have his option picked up for the final year of the deal. The fullback position is becoming a lesser and lesser used position, but Felton remains one of the best.
4. CB Captain Munnerlyn
The Vikings made several big splashes in free agency in the 2014 offseason. That includes the three-year, $11.25 million they gave Captain Munnerlyn. He struggled at times playing opposite Xavier Rhodes in his first season in Minnesota but had his role change to mostly play in the slot the next two seasons. He became one of the better slot corners heading into free agency this offseason. His physicality, confidence and feistiness made him one of the better slot corners in the game coming into this offseason. He turned that into a very lucrative contract to head back to where his professional career began, Carolina. He finished his tenure in Minnesota with 171 tackles, one sack, 12 passes defensed, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
3. CB Terence Newman
The Vikings were able to move Munnerlyn inside to the slot corner position because they signed the then-37-year-old Terence Newman to a one-year, $2.25 million deal in 2015. Newman had a lot of experience playing under Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer from when the two were player and coach with the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys. Zimmer has a lot of trust in Newman to be in the right spot and make the right play, regardless of the situation. That trust has garnered a couple more one-year contracts the following two offseasons. There is a chance that Newman could play into his 40’s as he has 100 tackles, 20 passes defensed and four interceptions in two seasons with the Vikings.
2. DT Tom Johnson
Very few people knew who Tom Johnson was when the Vikings signed him to a one-year, $845,000 contract in 2014. The then-29-year-old defensive tackle spent the first five years of his professional career on the Colts’ practice squad, in the NFL Europe league, in the Arena Football League and in the Canadian Football League. Then in 2011, he got another shot at the NFL when an opportunity with the New Orleans Saints arrived. He made an impact in the defensive line rotation for the Saints in three seasons. However, his career has taken off as a third defensive tackle for the Vikings in the three seasons since. After completing his first season with a career-high 6.5 sacks, he signed a three-year extension. His sack numbers have declined each year since 2014 but he recorded his first career interception in 2016 and has given the Vikings a reliable option in the rotation when Sharrif Floyd is injured.
1. DT Linval Joseph
Like Munnerlyn, Linval Joseph was a big free agent acquisition for the Vikings in 2014. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman put a lot of faith in Joseph giving him a five-year, $31.25 million contract and the then-25-year-old has been one of the best players on the Vikings defense. He can dominate at the line of scrimmage as a run stopper and he also has the ability to get penetration and make plays in the backfield. Many considered Joseph to be the team’s MVP as they jumped out to a 5-0 record last season. The season didn’t exactly end the way the team wanted it to, but Joseph recorded a career-high 77 tackles and three forced fumbles as well as tying his career-high with four sacks.