Spencer Johnson Talks Free Agency

Vikings defensive tackle Spencer Johnson is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month, the first time that has happened in his career. See what he had to say about negotiations and his thoughts on returning to Minnesota or testing the free-agent market.

Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson appears to be a player the Vikings are interested in keeping, but to this point negotiations on a contract extension haven't gotten too intense, Johnson said.

"Nothing has happened yet," he said, adding that the Vikings "definitely" have an interest in bringing him back.

Johnson is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career if he and the Vikings don't work out an extension before the Feb. 29 start of free agency.

For his part, the feeling on him coming back to Minnesota is mutual.

"Definitely. I'm very open to coming back. My agent is talking to them," he said. "They said something earlier … but the Combine is going on so I guess they're going to focus on that."

The NFL Scouting Combine starts on Thursday and runs through next Tuesday for player workouts, which would leave the Vikings with only a couple of days to sign their own free agents if they do indeed wait until after the Combine to begin serious negotiations.

Asked how long he thought the process might take once they get serious, Johnson said, "I'm not sure. Until now, other than reading it in the newspaper and seeing who signed with who, I've never gone through the process. This is fairly new to me."

But the chance to have his agent negotiate his first unrestricted free-agent contract also holds some excitement for Johnson.

"It's a very exciting time for me right now. I'm just working out and trying to make sure wherever I go or whoever signs me or if I come back to Minnesota, I'll be ready to go and contribute," he said.

He has been ready in the past. In 49 career games, Johnson has nine starts. He played in all 16 games season as a valuable wave player behind Pro Bowl tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams and ended the year with 27 tackles, three sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 16 quarterback hurries. When all three of his sacks came in September, he actually led the league's defensive tackles in sacks for a short time.

Although Johnson and his agent can't begin talking to other teams until the free-agent market opens, he has gotten the impression that if the Vikings don't get him re-signed before the end of next week, he would attract some interest from other clubs. Right now, however, he's still focused on coming back to the Vikings.

"I guess we're going to look at the market and see who does what or who's where and see what's going on, and we'll go from there," he said. "I love Minnesota. I love the guys around me, I like the coaches. So if I can get back there, that'll be fine. If I'm not, it's a business. I understand that."

UDEZE UPDATE

Johnson said he has talked and text-messaged with Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze a few times in the past few weeks and indicated that Udeze seems to be in good spirits in the wake of his diagnosis of leukemia.

"When we text, I ask him how he's doing and that's about it, to see how he's doing," Johnson said. "The last time I talked to him, he sounded good. When we texted, it's still the same old Kenechi. He sends me funny texts, so that's cool."


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