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The Minnesota Vikings placed the non-exclusive tag on safety Anthony Harris minutes before the franchise tag window closed ahead of free agency on March 16.

The move was met with some raised eyebrows. Not that Harris hasn’t played to the steep price tag ($11.41 million cap hit and guaranteed salary for 2020) or that the Vikings had only used the franchise tag two other times since it was introduced in 1993.

It took quarterback Cheap Kirk Cousins Jersey agreeing to a two-year contract extension, which freed up $10 million in cap space, for Minnesota to even have the option to tag Harris — two moves that came within hours of each other.

The Vikings locked up Harris, who tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions, before eventually losing three cornerbacks (Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Rhodes, who was released). The defense also lost Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Stephen Weatherly, Andrew Sendejo and Jayron Kearse.

The Vikings made a statement: Harris is such an important part of a defense experiencing turnover that they wanted to keep him with the hope of working out a long-term deal. Or they would trade him.

Two weeks of free agency have come and gone without any movement. The New York Giants and Cleveland Browns were among several of the serious suitors interested in Harris, according to league sources, but he remains with the Vikings.

It’s possible that the asking price is too high — what Minnesota wants in return for a trade and the salary Harris would like on a long-term deal.

Harris has leverage in that he could sign the tender and keep the Vikings on the hook for what they owe him in 2020. Minnesota, however, can exercise power of its own with the right to rescind the tag, similar to the move the Carolina Panthers pulled with Josh Norman in 2016.

Teams don’t often withdraw a franchise tag, but it would allow both sides to essentially start over. Harris would become an unrestricted free agent and the Vikings could use the money on another position of need.

The Vikings haven’t been able to find a dance partner, but a trade shouldn’t be ruled out. Minnesota has until the trade deadline in October to execute a move.

Vikings safety Anthony Harris tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions in 2019. Harrison Barden/USA TODAY Sports
If the Vikings wanted to work out a Harris trade now, the return could help address one of their bigger question marks: the offensive line. Minnesota has shown interest in acquiring Washington left tackle Trent Williams, who, through his representation, has made it clear that he wants to be traded. Washington, which signed safety Sean Davis, could address a positional need of its own by acquiring Harris to play opposite Landon Collins.

Vikings left tackle Cheap Riley Reiff Jersey has a $13.2 million cap hit for 2020. Deciding what to do with him is a problem for another day. For the sake of this argument, let’s say the Vikings keep him and move him to guard, which has been discussed the past two offseasons.

In that scenario, the Vikings and Redskins are in strong position to explore a player-for-player trade involving Harris and Williams (and potentially a draft pick from Minnesota). In freeing themselves of Harris’ $11.41 million cap hit, the Vikings would create the space needed (they currently have $12.495 million in cap space) to take on Williams’ $14.5 million cap hit in 2020 and work out a new deal with him.

But if the Vikings keep Harris, they can plan their defensive reboot without having to spend a high draft pick on a replacement for him. Building depth at safety can come in the later rounds or through the bargain bin on the free-agent market. It would likely take a first- or second-round pick to find Harris’ immediate replacement.

Either way, the clarity Minnesota could gain in the coming weeks will ultimately guide its draft strategy. Maintaining continuity in the secondary might be the Vikings’ method in mitigating some of the losses they experienced elsewhere on defense.

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EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings have had four punters in the past four seasons, so it’s understandable they want some stability at that position. And it looks now as if that will happen.

Cheap Britton Colquitt Jersey, an impending free agent who had a strong 2019 season, anticipates committing to re-sign with the Vikings before other teams can make offers on Monday.

“We, my agent and my family, we believe in the Vikings,” Colquitt said in a phone interview. “They’ve made it clear, we believe, they want to make a deal before free agency.”

Colquitt said his agent, Paul Sheehy, has proposed a three-year contract, with two years guaranteed, and the Vikings are on board with the proposal. Sheehy wrote in an email Wednesday that nothing has been finalized. Colquitt and Sheehy did not provide any figures, but the proposed deal is believed to average between $2 million and $3 million per season.

“My agent came up with a deal that is not outlandish and crazy, but it also puts me in a category of what we feel like I’ve earned,” said Colquitt, 34, a 10-year veteran. “(The Vikings) haven’t given us an offer. They’ve just accepted the proposal and said, ‘You know, we think that’s a fair deal. We just have to figure out where we can make some space.’ ”

The Vikings have little salary-cap room, so they might need to create some to lock up Colquitt by Monday, when NFL teams can begin negotiating with representatives of free agents. Free agents can sign deals with other teams starting Wednesday.

Colquitt is eligible now to re-sign. He said the Vikings want to hold off on a move until they see how voting goes for a possible new collective bargaining agreement. Voting by players concludes Saturday, and a new CBA would affect the salary cap for 2020.

“Most organizations would agree they don’t want to have to worry about the punter and holder position, so if I’m bringing that stability, let’s do it,” said Colquitt, also the holder for kicker Dan Bailey. “I think we’re all on the same page and we want it to happen. If there wasn’t this tight cap, I think (re-signing) already would have been done.”

Sheehy wrote in an email that negotiations are ongoing.

“While there is clearly a mutual interest in getting a deal done, nothing has been agreed to by either side,” he wrote. “We’ve had very positive discussions and the hope is it might lead to a contract, but it is certainly premature to say anything at all has been agreed upon.”

Before Colquitt became the Vikings’ punter in 2019, the team had three in three seasons: Jeff Locke in 2016, Ryan Quigley in 2017 and Matt Wile in 2018. Colquitt has been by far the best of the lot.

Colquitt averaged 45.2 yards gross and 42.6 net per punt, and was rated the NFL’s third-best punter by Pro Football Focus. He played for the minimum salary of $930,000 after being cut at the end of the preseason by the Cleveland Browns.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was critical of Wile as a holder in 2018, when Bailey made 21 of 28 field-goal attempts. With Colquitt holding, Bailey made 27 of 29 attempts last season.

“He kind of helped turn the career around for Bailey, the placekicker,” said Colquitt’s father, Craig, a punter for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1978-84. “And I think he contributed well as a punter.”

The Colquitts dub themselves “The First Family of Fourth Down.” Craig won Super Bowls with the Steelers in 1978 and 1979 and Britton claimed one with Denver in 2015. The family added a fourth ring last month when Britton’s brother, punter Dustin Colquitt, won a Super Bowl with Kansas City.

“It’s kind of beyond your wildest dreams,” Britton said of the family’s rings. “We really wanted it for Dustin. Our dad can’t quit talking about it.”

Britton was among 15 family members who attended the Chiefs’ 31-20 victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Three weeks earlier, the Vikings lost 27-10 to the 49ers in a divisional playoff.

“I was doing the tomahawk chop, and I was like the biggest Chiefs fan you’ve ever seen,” Britton said. “I was getting into it with San Francisco fans. Nothing bad. Just standard bantering back and forth. … When (the Chiefs) got a first down, I was going down a few rows and giving the first-down symbol. And (wife) Nikki is like, ‘You’ve got to chill out. You’re going to get in a fight with one of those 49ers fans.’ ”

No skirmishes took place. And now Dustin won’t receive any more family ribbing about not having a ring.

“It means he can relax,” Craig said with a laugh. “I hear his ring’s going to be even bigger than Britton’s. But they’ve still got to get another one (to catch me). How cool would that be if they have a repeat in Kansas City or have that happen in Minnesota?”

Britton hopes to get a ring with the Vikings. Britton, who has four children, said the family already is thinking it could be his final NFL stop.

“We’d love to stay in Minnesota and make it our home for a little while and maybe even ride out in a purple-and-gold sunset,” he said.

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With the NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview mirror, 2020 free agency is just around the corner. That period will officially begin at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 18 when the new league year begins.

Throughout the week, Eric Smith, Lindsey Young and I will continue diving into Minnesota’s current roster status by position. We’ll offer a refresher on which Vikings are scheduled to become free agents, where potential needs might be and note players from other teams that are set to become free agents.

Up next? The cornerbacks …

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Cheap Kris Boyd Jersey, Cheap Mark Fields Jersey, Cheap Kemon Hall Jersey, Cheap Holton Hill Jersey,Cheap Mike Hughes Jersey, Cheap Nate Meadors Jersey, Xavier Rhodes, Cheap Marcus Sayles Jersey

2019 Stats (tackles are team stats)

Boyd: 16 games; 12 tackles (11 solo), 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup; team-high 11 special teams tackles

Fields: 1 game; no stats

Hall: spent part of 2019 on Chargers practice squad

Hill: 8 games (1 start); 12 tackles, 1 pass breakup; 3 special teams tackles

Hughes: 14 games (3 starts); 43 tackles (39 solo), 1 tackle for loss, 1 interception, 11 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles; 2 special teams tackles; 7.4 yards per punt return

Meadors: 2 games; 2 tackles

Rhodes: 15 games (15 starts); 63 tackles (54 solo), 4 tackles for loss, 8 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble

Sayles (with CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers): 18 games, 64 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries; returned a punt he blocked 9 yards for a touchdown on Aug. 15 and a fumble he forced 24 yards for a score on Oct. 19

Hughes has shown considerable potential but has also suffered tough luck. A torn ACL ended Hughes’ promising rookie season and forced a grueling rehab a year ago, and an injury that he sustained in Week 17 landed him on injured reserve before the playoffs. Rhodes is not far from being named an All-Pro by the Associated Press, but his 2019 campaign was a departure from that level, causing many to speculate on his 2020 status. Hill’s second season was stunted by a pair of four-game suspensions out of the gate. Boyd, Hill’s former college teammate at Texas, showed promise in his rookie season. Fields, Hall, Meadors and Sayles will try to make the most of their opportunities this offseason to impress new position coaches.

SCHEDULED TO BECOME FREE AGENTS:

Mackensie Alexander:

A second-round pick in 2016, Alexander is at the end of his rookie contract. He transitioned from playing on the outside at Clemson to eventually embracing the top nickel cornerback position for the Vikings, making 10 starts the past two seasons. He’s totaled 84 of his 109 career tackles and all 4.5 of his career sacks, as well as 16 of 26 passes defensed since 2018. Alexander missed three games in the 2019 regular season and both of Minnesota’s playoff games because of injuries.

Marcus Sherels:

Known more for his punt returning prowess, the reserve cornerback didn’t record any defensive stats in 2019. The season was a weird one for Sherels, to say the least. After spending the rest of the decade with the Vikings, he signed with the Saints in free agency. Sherels never played for New Orleans, who cut him on Sept. 1. Three weeks later, Sherels re-signed with Minnesota, but he was cut Oct. 22 and joined Miami. After five games with the Dolphins, he was waived in mid-December. The Vikings re-re-signed him on Jan. 3, 2020. Sherels played against the Saints in the Wild Card round. He uncharacteristically struggled the following week, committing two fumbles (one lost) on punt returns at San Francisco.

Trae Waynes:

The 11th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, Waynes has started 53 of 74 regular-season games for the Vikings, including all 44 he’s played the past three seasons. The Vikings were able to use a club option on the first-round selection to make his rookie contract last five seasons, but it is now set to expire. Waynes has totaled 251 tackles, 1.0 sack, nine tackles for loss, seven interceptions, 51 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

POTENTIAL NEED:

The cornerback position could experience significant changes this offseason. Numerous draft pundits project that the Vikings will invest their first-round selection in a corner to help fill potential voids. With several years of experience logged, Minnesota knows exactly what it has in cornerbacks that are set to become free agents, compared to those that might hit the market on other teams. The position is important in Head Coach Mike Zimmer’s defense, both in pass coverage and run support. Alligator-arming a tackle, for instance, is highly discouraged.

The Vikings needs could involve a starter on the outside (if Waynes leaves), a virtual starter in the slot (if Alexander, who played more than 500 snaps in each of the past two seasons, departs) or both. Hughes has logged experience at both positions over the course of his first two seasons.

WHO’S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE:

NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling teamed up again this year to rate their top 101 potential free agents.

The following cornerbacks are listed in order of their overall rankings, along with their 2019 teams: 8. Byron Jones (DAL), 24. Chris Harris, Jr. (DEN), 37. James Bradberry (CAR), 49. Logan Ryan (TEN), 50. Kendall Fuller (KC), 56. Trae Waynes (MIN), 58. Bradley Roby (HOU), 68. Darqueze Dennard (CIN), 70. Eli Apple (NO), 72. Ronald Darby (PHI), 83. Jimmy Smith (BAL), 90. Bashaud Breeland (KC), 91. Prince Amukamara (CHI), 92. Jalen Mills (PHI) and 96. Daryl Worley (OAK)

Other cornerbacks set to become free agents that didn’t crack the top 101 are as follows (listed in order of 2019 team): Blidi Wreh-Wilson (ATL), Levi Wallaceand Kevin Johnson (BUF), Ross Cockrell and Javien Elliott (CAR), Anthony Brown (DAL), Davontae Harris (DEN), Rashaan Melvin (DET), Tramon Williams and Chandon Sullivan* (GB), Johnathan Joseph (HOU), Morris Claiborne (KC), Michael Davis (LAC), Aqib Talib (MIA), P.J. Williams (NO), Grant Haley (NYG), Maurice Canady, Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet* (NYJ), Artie Burns and Mike Hilton* (PIT), Jason Verrett (SF), Akeem King (SEA), Tramaine Brock and LeShaun Sims (TEN), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Aaron Colvin (WAS)

  • Restricted free agent

** Exclusive rights free agent

There’s a bevy of regular-season and Super Bowl experience set to hit the market among players in the top 101 and those that didn’t crack the list. Nine of the 14 players in the top 101 have been part of at least one team that has claimed a Lombardi Trophy. Ryan was part of two Super Bowl wins in New England.

Several names in the “others” category also will ring a bell for many Vikings fans. Tramon Williams, who will turn 37 on March 16, has appeared in 199 games, including 159 with Green Bay, and recorded 34 interceptions. Johnathan Joseph, who will turn 36 in April, has played in 200 games, totaling 31 career interceptions.

Brock, a former Golden Gopher, played 11 games for the Vikings in 2017 and has started 56 of his 117 appearances.

Talib, 34, is a five-time Pro Bowler who was part of Denver’s win in Super Bowl 50. He has started 134 of 148 games and has 35 career interceptions. Rodgers-Cromartie will be 34 in April. He has recorded 30 picks and made two Pro Bowls.

Experience can come at a high premium during free agency, and the Vikings placement against the salary cap is well-documented.

If the Vikings don’t replace a departure with a veteran through free agency, it could mean they believe a young player is ready for the next step or the team likes the look of a draft-eligible player, which would allow them to allocate financials elsewhere.

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EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings have added to their linebackers group, the team announced Wednesday.

Minnesota agreed to terms with free agent Cheap DeMarquis Gates Jersey, who most recently played for the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks.

Being that the XFL’s season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic after just five games, players from the league were allowed to sign with NFL teams. Gates’ Roughnecks ended their debut campaign as the league’s lone undefeated squad at 5-0.

Here are five things to know about the new Vikings linebacker:

  1. Making the highlight reel

Gates played a key role in the Roughnecks defense, coming up with big plays like the one below, which initially appeared to be an interception but was called a fumble recovery in the stats book. The play clinched a Houston win over Dallas.

His 32 combined tackles tied for fifth in the XFL, according to league stats. Gates also had 2.0 sacks, three quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, three passes defensed, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and an interception through five games.

  1. Multiple stops along the way

Gates has played for three professional football leagues.

He initially joined the Browns in 2018 as an undrafted free agent but was released. He then played for Memphis Express of the Alliance of American Football. Gates led the AAF with 52 tackles and five forced fumbles through eight games before the league folded.

In April 2019, Gates signed with the Redskins but was waived in June.

  1. Rebel before a Roughneck

Gates played at Ole Miss from 2014-17, leading the Rebels in tackles each of his final three seasons.

As a senior, he became the first Ole Miss player to record more than 100 tackles since five-time All-Pro Patrick Willis accomplished the feat in 2006.

Gates’ 70 solo tackles in 2017 topped the SEC and put him at 13th-best in FBS. His 9.5 tackles per game ranked third in the conference.

  1. Georgia native

Gates hails from Hampton, Georgia, where he attended Lovejoy High School and was named a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com. Rivals.com listed him as the No. 19 outside linebacker in the country despite the fact that he missed his senior season with a torn ACL.

As a junior at Lovejoy, Gates recorded 132 tackles and was named All-Region.

Other notable names who have graduated from Lovejoy include Dolphins wide receiver Preston Williams and former running back Tashard Choice.

  1. One of three

Gates was raised by his aunt and uncle, Tia and Leon Dillard. He has two sisters and shared on Instagram that the trio of siblings is close.

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EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings have agreed to terms with veteran defensive end Cheap Anthony Zettel Jersey, the team announced Wednesday.

The addition of Zettel brings experience to a young defensive line group. He has appeared in 49 regular-season games since his selection in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions in 2016.

Zettel recorded all 16 of his career starts in his second pro season with Detroit, including a monster game in Week 4 against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Zettel recorded 2.0 sacks, four quarterback hits and recovered a fumble in a 14-7 win by the Lions.

The native of West Branch, Michigan, was waived by Detroit at the start of the 2018 season and claimed by Cleveland. He played 15 games for the Browns but was waived before the 2019 season kicked off.

Photos: DE Anthony Zettel
View photos of DE Anthony Zettel who the Vikings agreed to terms with on Wednesday.

Zettel then landed in Cincinnati and played in four games for the Bengals. He signed with San Francisco prior to the 2019 regular-season finale in which the 49ers claimed the No. 1 overall seed.

Zettel played in all three of San Francisco’s postseason games, including Super Bowl LIV.

Prior to making it to the NFL, Zettel played collegiately at Penn State and turned in a First-Team All-Big Ten season in 2014, recording 17 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and three interceptions while playing on the edge and interior of the defensive line.

Zettel finished his Nittany Lions career with 38 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown against Ohio State in 2014.

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Longtime Minnesota Vikings great Everson Griffen took to social media on Friday to announce that he won’t be returning to the team in 2020. He thanked the fans for their support over the years and also acknowledged his teammates, whom he stated “were like brothers to him.”

The star defensive end has been with the team since they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Griffen will be remembered for his high energy on and off the field. He will finish his Vikings’ career with 353 tackles, 74.5 sacks and two interceptions. Griffen was one of the Vikings’ all-time great pass rushers and one of their best draft picks over the last decade.

This announcement does come as a bit of a shock. At the NFL Combine, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer expressed confidence that Griffen would be back with the team this season. They certainly would want him back for a couple of reasons. First, he played great last year. The team was able to restructure his contract last offseason and he bounced back from a dismal 2018 campaign, with 41 tackles and 8.0 sacks.

The second reason the Vikings would want him back is to provide depth.

Cheap Danielle Hunter Jersey is one of the best pass rushers in the league, and he’ll still man the left side of the Vikings’ defensive line. Cheap Ifeadi Odenigbo Jersey will in all likelihood be the right defensive end, but the depth behind him is a big question mark. With Stephen Weatherly going to Carolina and now Griffen leaving, the only player remaining on the depth chart is Cheap Eddie Yarbrough Jersey, whom the team signed off the streets during the playoffs last year. This pushes up their need at defensive end quite a bit and it is now one they’ll need to address fairly early in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Griffen was a great player on the field and a character off it. It will be hard for Vikings fans to see him in a different uniform next season, but he’ll always be remembered fondly as being one of the best edge rushers to ever put on that purple jersey.

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EAGAN, Minn. — Cheap Michael Pierce Jersey has been watching the Vikings from afar, and he couldn’t be more excited to be joining a Minnesota team with a strong history at defensive tackle.

Pierce, whom the Vikings signed as a free agent earlier this week, spoke to Twin Cities media members Friday via conference call and expressed his eagerness to work with Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Andre Patterson.

“Just the way he develops guys, his track record speaks for itself,” Pierce said of Patterson. “He has the leading [defensive tackle] sack-leader in NFL history under his belt [in John Randle], so I was pretty much sold.”

Pierce added that he told Patterson and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer he learns “not only by doing but by watching” and has kept an eye on former Vikings nose tackle Linval Joseph.

Pierce will look to fill the shoes of Joseph, who recently signed with the Chargers in free agency.

“I was a fan of Linval from right when I came into the league, and I learned a lot from him,” said the 27-year-old. “Learning from a guy who taught him, learning from a guy who has coached guys in my position and helped them grow … it’s something I’m all about and eager to get started whenever it’s possible.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect across the U.S. and around the world, Pierce is among the masses who currently are unable to travel or work out in public gyms.

He was asked by reporters about his plan to stay healthy and in-shape during these uncertain times and assured that he’s staying focused while down in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama.

“Obviously to stay in shape, as my nutritionist tells me, it’s 80 percent of what you put in your body,” Pierce explained. “I have a meal-prep company that makes all of my meals and makes sure I’m putting the right stuff in my body.

“I was working out at EXOS down in Pensacola, [Florida], and they sent me a little homework plan, so I’ve got some running and body-weight stuff I can do until I get back in the gym,” he added. “I’d say I have a pretty solid plan. It’s only been a few days since they shut down my gym, but I think it’s working well.”

Working out, particularly in the weight room, is something Pierce is known to have an affinity for.

A video of Pierce squatting 725 pounds at Samford University four years ago has well made the rounds, and he isn’t shy about his love for weightlifting. He even pointed out that he was impressed by the Vikings hosting Icelandic professional strongman and Game of Thrones star Thor Björnsson for a game at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2017.

Asked to illustrate how strong he is, Pierce said he believes he’s “at least in the top 10” of the NFL’s strongest players.

“I have a sheer love for weightlifting – I’d be doing that if I wasn’t playing football. I’d probably be trying to try out for the Olympics or join the U.S.A. Olympic weightlifting team,” Pierce said. “I take pride in it; I’ll let the videos speak for themselves and my play on the field speak for itself. But yeah, that’s been a hobby of mine ever since I started. I’d say I’m pretty, you know, up there.”

He did acknowledge, however, that his training regimen has changed since an incident last June when the Ravens did not allow Pierce to practice at the start of minicamp due to weight concerns.

Pierce explained:

“I got really, really deep into powerlifting like I had been doing in the past, mismanaged my cardiovascular program very, very bad, and that’s due to me just doing my own thing and not being under a trainer’s wing,” he admitted. “I wasn’t eating as well as I could, and I was more worried about lifting weights than running as much as I should have been. I went through that [last] spring, and I got myself in shape [last] summer and passed the conditioning test, and I was ready to go.

“I’ve totally overhauled everything that I’ve done, starting with having a nutritionist and working with the right companies to put the right things in my body – not only during the season but year-round, now,” added Pierce, who weighed in at 345 pounds for the Ravens.

He also anticipates – and is willing – to adjust as needed per the Vikings thoughts on playing weight.

“When I get to meet everyone in person [in Minnesota], I’m sure they have a nutritionist on staff, and they’ll check out my body fat, see how that’s doing and make up their own plan,” Pierce said. “They seem to like that, for a big guy, I have good feet and can redirect pretty well and tend to be around the ball whenever I’m on the field. That’s something for us to sit down and talk about and make sure everybody is on the same page. … I will be ready to roll as soon as day one starts.”

Now having a better handle on his physical conditioning and balance between strength and cardio training, Pierce is thrilled to be joining the Vikings and brings to the table a shining reputation as a run-stopper.

He isn’t satisfied with success only against the run, though.

“Coming into Baltimore, that was what was expected of our nose guard. That’s kind of how I got my start, and that lends to me and my body build,” Pierce said. “After talking to Coach Patterson, just him expressing how he thinks I can continue to grow my game and continue to add to my pass-rush ability, I’m excited, man.

“I love stopping the run, and that is my calling card and something I enjoy doing each and every day, but at this point in my career it’s time to blossom and make some strides,” he continued. “[Patterson] explained how he helped Linval and that he was in a similar position when he signed with the team.”

It’s been quite the journey for Pierce, who started his career as an undrafted rookie out of a small collegiate program.

He said it “feels amazing” to now be signing as a free agent to play a significant role in Minnesota’s defense.

“I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” Pierce said. “I haven’t had much time to get outside of the house, or breathe, or reflect at the moment. It definitely feels amazing, just to be valued … by an organization and have somebody respect my game that much to give me the keys to such a prestigious organization that has such a deep history of d-line play and having guys like Kevin Williams and Pat Williams.

“It’s a blessing, man,” he added. “I’m sure by the time I see you guys it will have sunk in some more.”

Custom Womens Vikings Tajae Sharpe Shop 2020

Soon after the Vikings signed former Titans receiver Cheap Tajae Sharpe Jersey to a one-year, $1 million contract this week, he received a phone call from offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Among the subjects of that call was how Sharpe’s familiarity with Packers coach Matt LaFleur ultimately could help him fit in Minnesota.

LaFleur’s first NFL job was as an offensive assistant in Houston from 2008-09 while Kubiak was the head coach there. His indoctrination in a system similar to the one the Vikings use continued when he worked for Mike Shanahan in Washington from 2010-13. Before becoming the Packers’ head coach in 2019, he spent a year calling plays in Tennessee, where Sharpe’s work in LaFleur’s offense gave the Vikings something of a baseline for how he’d fit under Kubiak in Minnesota.

“When I got the pleasure to talk to Coach Kubiak yesterday, we kind of spoke briefly and he was telling [me] Matt LaFleur kind of grew up under him, so some of the language may be familiar to what I’m used to hearing,” Sharpe said in a conference call Thursday. “So that’s always a good thing when you don’t have to completely start from scratch as far as learning the offense if you hear certain words and certain terms that may be familiar to you that you kind of puzzle together, that’s always a big help.”

The Vikings have five picks in the first three rounds of a draft thought to be stocked with wide receivers, so Sharpe’s addition could represent only the beginning of an effort to add to the position after trading Stefon Diggs to Buffalo last week. In the meantime, though, Sharpe gives the team a receiver with four years of NFL experience — the second most among wideouts on the roster behind Cheap Adam Thielen Jersey — and a player who’s familiar with the Vikings’ style of offense.

He becomes the second former Titan to sign with the team in as many years, following guard Josh Kline in 2019. Sharpe’s most productive year in Tennessee was his rookie season in 2016, when he caught 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns. He missed all of 2017 because of a foot injury, and attributed his production decline the past two seasons to coaching staff changes that precipitated new receivers coming to Tennessee.

“Having a new head coaching staff different from what I had my rookie year, coaches like to bring in guys that they want to see come in and try to make some plays,” Sharpe said. “I understand that’s part about the business, and I’m all cool with that.

“That’s how the game goes, but like I said now, the opportunity that the Vikings presented me with, being able to come in and having a chance to compete for a starting spot and widen my role a little bit, have a larger role as a part of the offense — that was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. I feel like this is the perfect place for me to be.”

Sharpe said he spoke with quarterback Kirk Cousins on Wednesday.

“He reached out to me, and he was excited to get things going,” Sharpe said.

Whenever the Vikings begin their offseason workout program, Sharpe will look to connect with Cousins quickly as the team tries to replace Diggs. It could give Sharpe a means to refresh his career, too.

“The opportunity that’s being presented with Diggs being traded, having kind of a void to fill at the receiver position, I felt like I had the opportunity to come in here and compete for a starting spot,” he said. “That’s all that you can ask for is the opportunity to come in and compete, to prove your worth. I feel like with Coach Kubiak and with him running the offense and the success that he’s had for all these years, I just feel like this is the best spot for me to be.”

Rhodes to Colts

Xavier Rhodes, a three-time Pro Bowl cornerback for the Vikings, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Rhodes, 29, was released by the Vikings on March 13 to save $8.1 million of salary cap money. After making first team All-Pro in 2017, he was hampered by injuries in 2018 and had a rough 2019 season with eight penalties and a heated sideline exchange with coach Mike Zimmer during a December game in Seattle.

Nevertheless, he was a late addition to the Pro Bowl.

Jones back

The Vikings are bringing center Brett Jones back on a one-year deal worth the veteran minimum ($910,000).

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EAGAN, Minn. — As Tajaé Sharpe prepared to enter free agency for the first time in his young career, the wide receiver made a checklist of sorts of what he was looking for in a team.

The 2016 fifth-round pick, who joined the Vikings earlier this week, wanted to land with a strong organization that featured a veteran quarterback and respected offensive play-caller, plus an opportunity to contribute right away.

Minnesota certainly checked those boxes. Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak has four Super Bowl wins on his resumé. Kirk Cousins is accurate and can deliver the deep ball, and the Vikings have a need at wide receiver after trading Stefon Diggs last week.

“The opportunity that is being presented with Diggs being traded, having a void to fill at the receiver position. I felt like I had an opportunity to come here and compete for a starting spot, and that’s all that you can ask for — an opportunity to compete and prove your worth,” Sharpe said Thursday afternoon of why he chose the Vikings. “With Coach Kubiak, him running the offense and the success he’s had in the league all these years, I feel like this is the best spot for me to be to take my game to the next level.”

Sharpe described Cousins as “the best deep-ball thrower in the league last year,” and he also praised the veteran’s known leadership ability.

“He’s a baller. I think he does a great job of being a leader for this team and does a great job of delivering the football,” Sharpe said. “He’s not scared to stand back there in the pocket and take a hit while delivering the football. He does a great job of being accurate down the field.

“I’m extremely excited … he reached out [to me Wednesday], so that was a great feeling for myself, just to have the leader of the team reach out,” Sharpe added. “[Adam] Thielen did as well, so it feels good having those guys welcome me with open arms, so I can’t wait to get going.”

Sharpe is expected to compete for a starting role opposite Thielen in a group that currently includes the likes of Cheap Bisi Johnson Jersey, Cheap Chad Beebe Jersey, Cheap Alexander Hollins Jersey, Cheap Davion Davis Jersey, Cheap Dillon Mitchell Jersey and Cheap Bralon Addison Jersey. Minnesota could also explore adding a pass catcher in a deep wide receiver class in the draft.

The 25-year-old Sharpe is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, as he caught a career-high four touchdowns on 25 receptions for 329 yards in 15 regular-season games with the Titans.

Photos: WR Tajaé Sharpe
View photos of WR Tajaé Sharpe who the Vikings agreed to terms on Wednesday.

Three of his eight career scores have come at least 30 yards from the end zone.

“I definitely think I could be that big-play guy,” Sharpe said. “In Tennessee, I didn’t feel I got as many opportunities to do that, kind of go down the field and make some plays, but hopefully in the future I can show people I can go down the field and make some big plays.”

Sharpe has 92 career catches for 1,167 yards with eight touchdowns in three seasons. He missed the 2017 season with a foot injury.

While he could be a deep-ball target, Sharpe also noted that he can play in the slot, and said he welcomed the chance to make plays anywhere on the field.

“Anywhere I need to line up on the field — whether it’s inside or outside — I feel like I have the ability to get open for my quarterback and make plays,” Sharpe said. “I feel like being inside, there’s way more space in there, so it’s a little bit easier than playing on the outside.

“It’s a lot of fun to be able to move around and play a bunch of different positions on the field,” Sharpe added.

The former UMass standout made his NFL debut against the Vikings back in Week 1 of the 2016 season when he caught seven passes for 76 yards in a 25-16 Minnesota win. Sharpe’s seven catches are tied for his current career best, and his 76 yards are his second-most in a single game.

“I remember being a little bit nervous the night before, not knowing what to expect,” Sharpe said. “But some of the veteran guys were telling me the speed of the game picks up a little bit from the preseason to the regular season.

“Just regular rookie nerves, but once I got out there I realized it’s all football,” Sharpe added. “You may be playing at a higher level with new guys on your team, but it’s just football at the end of the day.”

Sharpe admitted his first foray into free agency was a little different than he expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic happening around the world. With team facilities currently shut down, Sharpe said he was unable to meet with anyone in person.

But he did chat with Kubiak, Cousins and Thielen by phone, and he has set up footwork drills in his backyard to stay sharp.

And when football activities resume at some point down the road, Sharpe said he’ll be ready to prove why signing with the Vikings was the best fit for him.

“I think this offseason was a little bit weird for everybody with everything going on, the [coronavirus] situation – teams not being able to meet with players and everything is a little bit different for everybody. Especially for me, with this being the first time I was a free agent,” Sharpe said. “I kind of didn’t know what to expect, but honestly it was exciting just to get a new opportunity to go somewhere else and showcase your talent to different fans and in a different city. It was an exciting experience, and I’m just happy that the process is over and I landed in a spot I’m completely happy with. I think I definitely made the right decision.

“It definitely feels a little weird. Being an athlete, we’re used to lifting and running and being on the field most of the year. Now, everybody has a chance to kind of sit down and gather their thoughts,” Sharpe later added. “It is a little weird that I’m not getting ready to go out to Minnesota for OTAs and things right now. Everything is on hold. We’re not sure when it’s going to clear up, so I think a lot of people are kind of confused or indecisive, as far as not knowing the next move, but we’ll get through this thing together. When everything kicks off, we just have to be ready to go.”

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After releasing fullback Johnny Stanton from the practice squad on Tuesday, the Vikings filled his spot on Wednesday, signing running back Cheap Tony Brooks-James Jersey.

Brooks-James, a rookie, was an undrafted free agent out of Oregon. He spent time with Pittsburgh earlier in November. In three games, he rushed eight times for seven yards. Not great.

In four years of college, Brooks-James had 1,863 rushing yards and 392 receiving yards to go with 20 total touchdowns.