Vikings sign free agent defensive end Justin Trattou

The Minnesota Vikings have one of the youngest, most sustainable rosters in the entire NFL. It’s a group of players that helped the Vikings finish 11-5 and atop the NFC North for the first time since 2009. When a team is built to last, such as Rick Spielman’s in Minnesota, it’s hard to argue blowing that team up through free agency.

Spielman’s most recent moves — signing Alex Boone and building depth at linebacker — signal his efforts to retain core contributors and fill necessary holes only when necessary. That’s why today’s announcement from veteran defensive end Justin Trattou comes as no surprise; he’s returning to the team on a one-year deal.

Trattou shared via Instagram that he’s “excited and proud” to “pick up” where the Vikings left off last year and told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press that the Vikings are the “best young team in the NFL.”

In his third season as a Viking, Trattou played just 12 defensive snaps, rotating behind Brian Robison as the left defensive end. While he mostly contributed on special teams, Trattou maximized his limited time (five games) on the field. Against the Lions in Week 2 and Bears in Week 15, he intercepted two passes, showing off a deft ability to read a quarterback’s eyes and drop into coverage.

Image courtesy of Detroit Lions All 22

He originally joined the Vikings in the middle of the 2013 season and has appeared in 10 games over the past three years with Minnesota. The 27-year-old veteran is the ninth free agent to re-sign with the Vikings this offseason, and he’ll add much-needed depth to Mike Zimmer’s varied defensive line. According to the team’s official website, Zimmer is a “big believer” in versatility and depth at the position because it allows him to use a rotation to keep players fresh and/or fill gaps caused by injuries.