The Minnesota Vikings are on a pre-free agency roll this Saturday, signing multiple players to new contracts. Strong safety Andrew Sendejo was the first, and now, it looks as though defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis will be in Minnesota through 2016. According to reports from USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, Ellis has agreed to a one-year deal with the Vikings.
Ellis originally signed with the Vikings in October 2015 after the team placed Shamar Stephen on Injured Reserve. “I’m happy to be here, and I’m going to take advantage of my opportunities,” Ellis said after his first practice. “I think I’ll fit in fine with the scheme. I like to be physical around the line of scrimmage and run to the ball.”
After signing in October, the 28-year-old appeared in nine games for the Vikings. He filled in when Linval Joseph went down with a foot injury and provided needed depth on the defensive line. Before coming to Minnesota, Ellis spent time with the New York Giants and New York Jets. He was originally drafted by the Jets in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft and started five games for the team.
With the new contract, Ellis joins Joseph, Sharrif Floyd, Tom Johnson, and Stephen to form a healthy rotation at defensive tackle. He’ll fight for playing time, but Ellis has shown that at 6’5″ and 346 pounds, he’s an adequate run defender and fit in Mike Zimmer’s defense. Though he finished the season with a disappointing overall grade of 65.6 (68.3 run defense, 57.5 pass rush) from Pro Football Focus, he’s a veteran who understands his limited role on the roster.
The Vikings now have 15 impending free agents without contracts, including right guard Mike Harris and running back Matt Asiata. Other notable names include Chad Greenway, Terence Newman, Marcus Sherels, and Rhett Ellison. We’re likely to hear more breaking news as free agency draws closer. Stay tuned; we kick off the live blog next week!