Vikings take new approach to signings

The Vikings and general manager Rick Spielman departed from one of their philosophies with their signings this year.

Over the past couple years, the Minnesota Vikings have had one of the youngest teams in the NFL. General manager Rick Spielman would gather a lot of draft picks in order to stockpile the team with younger players, and he will usually not re-sign players to the team once they are older than 30.

This offseason, however, Spielman appears to be taking a different approach and has been re-signing plenty of veteran players who are over 30.

The first player that the Vikings re-signed this offseason was Tom Johnson, who is 30 years old. Johnson bounced around the NFL plenty during his first few years in the league and never was able to find success on a consistent basis. Last year, he signed a one-year deal with the Vikings and had a career season, recording 32 tackles and was second on the team with 6½ sacks.

Not only did the Vikings re-sign Johnson, but they gave him a three-year deal.

Johnson provides the Vikings with a player who can get a good push in the middle of the defensive line in passing situations, which is always important to have. Head coach Mike Zimmer also likes to shuffle his defensive linemen in and out of the lineup in order to keep him fresher. That is probably a big reason why the Vikings felt comfortable bringing him back.

Shortly after the Vikings re-signed Johnson, they got a deal done with long snapper Cullen Loeffler. 34, who has been in the NFL for 11 years. He has spent his entire career with the Vikings and earlier this month signed a one-year deal with them. It is unclear how much longer he will be with the Vikings, but since he is on the field for a limited amount of snaps he is staying relatively fresh.

Loeffler didn’t have one of his best seasons in 2014, but it appears the Vikings still have confidence that he is their man. One reason could be because he has a great relationship with placekicker Blair Walsh and punter Jeff Locke.

Another veteran player that the Vikings re-signed this offseason is Joe Berger, who signed a two-year deal. Berger is 32 years old and has been in the NFL for 10 years. He provides the Vikings with valuable depth along the offensive line, as he can play all three positions along the interior.

Berger had to step up and start for the Vikings in 2014 after both their starting guards missed time with injuries. Although it is unclear what his role will be with the Vikings in 2015, it seems as though Berger will at least get the opportunity to compete for a starting job.

Soon after the Vikings re-signed Berger, they signed their first unrestricted free agent in quarterback Shaun Hill. Hill is a 35-year-old veteran and has played for multiple teams during his tenure in the NFL. He was brought in to be a backup to Teddy Bridgewater and to help him develop as a quarterback.

It made a lot of sense when the Vikings signed Hill because one of the teams he played for was the San Francisco 49ers. He was there the same time as offensive coordinator Norv Turner, so he had the opportunity to learn how Turner’s offense was run.

The Vikings weren’t done bringing in older veteran players, though, as they agreed to terms this week with Terence Newman, who will be 37 by the time the season starts. Newman signed a one-year deal and will be rejoined with his former defensive coordinator Zimmer. The two spent time together in both Dallas and Cincinnati, and Newman received $750,000 in guarantees, according to NFL.com.

It is still unclear whether the Vikings brought Newman in to be a veteran player that knows Zimmer’s defense and can help the young cornerbacks on the team, or if the Vikings expect him to be a starter on the defense.

One thing that does seem to be certain, though, is that the Vikings are trying to bring more veteran leadership into their locker room filled with young players.

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