Per Corey Wootton’s Twitter account, the formers Bears defensive end has elected to stay in the NFC North and sign with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings hold a particular importance for Wootton, as his first career sack in 2010 was against Minnesota against Brett Favre (it happened to be the sack that ended Favre’s career). Wootton has stayed in the midwest since he elected to play for Northwestern (out of Rutherford, New Jersey) and was named to several Big Ten all-freshman teams before entering the 2010 draft and getting drafted in the fourth round.
Wootton ranked 45th out of 52 4-3 DEs in Pro Football Focus’ grading system for 2013 but fared better in previous years. In 2012, he ranked 38th of 62 rushers and earned a nearly average (though negative) grade. In those two years, he earned a better run defense grade than pass rush grade, which fits more in line with what Zimmer has sought in his defensive ends in Cincinnati than a signing like Griffen does. Wootton’s Pass Rush Productivity (a PFF measure) was dead last in the NFL in 2013, but was NFL average the year before.
Wootton has also taken a number of snaps at DT and had looked better there, giving Zimmer an undersized (6’6,” 270) rotational pass rusher in Nascar packages and potential run stop fill in for Floyd.
His deal is for one year and is a $1.5 million deal with another $500k in incentives, per Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. Wootton still has untapped talent that a coach like Zimmer can develop, and it will hopefully turn into a longer deal. Given the heavy rotation we’ve seen in Bengals defenses in the past, this sort of depth signing may end up having a bigger impact than most.