Vikings Sign Wyms, Sartz

Two players who were in for visits recently – defensive lineman Ellis Wyms and linebacker Dallas Sartz - agreed to contract terms with the Vikings.

The Vikings' mini-flurry of backup free-agent signings continued by agreeing to terms with veteran defensive lineman Ellis Wyms and outside linebacker Dallas Sartz.

Wyms played the first six seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who play a similar defense to Minnesota's signature scheme (although how much the Vikings actually employ the Tampa-2 defense is up for debate). While with the Bucs, Wyms registered 14½ sacks, including a career-high five in his final season in Tampa Bay.

But agent Brian Levy said the familiarity of the scheme wasn't the biggest factor in Wyms signing with the Vikings. He said Wyms enjoyed his visit with the Vikings' coaches on March 8, and opportunity also played a role. Wyms figures to be a part of the Vikings' regular rotation at defensive tackle behind Pro Bowl players Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Currently, the Vikings have only Fred Evans and Wyms behind them. Spencer Johnson, a backup for the last four seasons with the Vikings, signed a five-year, $17.5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills that included $6 million in guarantees.

Last year, Wyms played for the Seattle Seahawks, where he had two sacks and was credited with 11 tackles. For his career, he has 145 tackles and 16½ sacks, along with three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Wyms was originally drafted in the sixth round (183rd overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State and has played in 79 games with nine starts during his career. He started a career-high eight games at defensive tackle for Tampa Bay in 2006 but has experience at both tackle and end during his career. Wyms was a part of the Buccaneers squad that won Super Bowl XXXVII against Oakland, a game in which he notched a sack of Raiders QB Rich Gannon.

Wyms agreed to a one-year contract that could pay him about $1 million.

Sartz entered the NFL in 2007 as a fifth-round pick (143rd overall) of the Washington Redskins. He was with the Redskins during training camp and was released toward the end of the preseason. He was getting interest from other teams but was unable to practice due to a torn hamstring.

He is expected to vie for a backup spot at strongside linebacker, with his coverage skills being his strength, according to a league source.

Sartz played in 53 games with 34 starts during his five seasons (including a medical redshirt) at USC, where he was part of the Trojans' 2003 and 2004 National Championship teams. He finished his collegiate career with 194 tackles (106 solo), 12½ sacks, 16 pass deflections, two forced and two recovered fumbles. During his final season, when he was named Pac 10 honorable mention, he led the Trojans with a career-high seven sacks and ranked third on the team with a career-high 70 tackles, including five for a loss.

Sartz had to regain his starting job as a senior at Southern California after having shoulder surgery in 2005. He had started the previous three seasons at strongside linebacker before taking a redshirt season when he suffered his dislocated left shoulder in the second game of the year.

Sartz is tall, fast (4.58 forty at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2007) and athletic and will get every opportunity to compete for a backup spot at outside linebacker.

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