Vikings sign S Taylor Mays, LB Casey Matthews

The Vikings signed safety Taylor Mays and linebacker Casey Matthews as they continue to search for upgrades and depth on defense.

The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to contract terms with safety Taylor Mays and linebacker Casey Matthews.

Mays visited with the Vikings last week but left to take other visits before deciding to re-join forces with head coach Mike Zimmer, who was the defensive coordinator for Mays in Cincinnati during the safety’s first three years with Bengals.

During that time, Mays started four games. Mays was originally a second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. He has played in 66 games with 10 starts, totaling 57 tackles, one sack and six passes defensed.

Last year, with Zimmer in Minnesota, Mays played in all 16 games for the Bengals but didn’t start any.

The Vikings return starting safety Harrison Smith as well, as Robert Blanton and Andrew Sendejo, who shared time starting opposite Smith. Mays could have a shot to compete for a starting job or simply be used on special teams.

The Vikings also added Matthews after visiting with him.

Last season, middle linebacker was a weak point for a Vikings defense that finished 25th in the NFL against the run. The Vikings chose not to re-sign Jasper Brinkley – who they signed to a one-year deal in 2014 – this offseason. That left the middle linebacker spot open and the Vikings have taken a step to at least fortify the depth there, if not find another starting option in Matthews.

Matthews was originally a fourth-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 after playing college football at Oregon. In his rookie season, Matthews originally started as the Eagles’ middle linebacker, but was later demoted to their nickel linebacker.

He has played in all 16 games each of his first four years in the NFL and 2014 could be considered the best season of his career. He recorded a career-high 53 tackles and 1½ sacks, and also recorded his first forced fumble.

The Vikings will likely use him on special teams and also have him compete for the starting middle linebacker position with Audie Cole or any other additions they could make in free agency or the draft.

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