Michael Pierce Is Homeward Bound

Michael Pierce Is Homeward Bound
Michael Pierce

Paving the way for the acquisition of defensive tackle Harrison Smith from the Buffalo Bills, the Minnesota Vikings released Michael Pierce earlier this week. The franchise saved $6 million by cutting Pierce, allowing new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to sign a younger, healthier defender for the middle of the defensive line.

It didn’t take long for Pierce to catch on elsewhere, though. Before becoming a Viking in 2020, Pierce spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, and now he’s heading back to the same organization.

Pierce was given a contract for three years and $16.5 million for a return to the AFC North.

The departure of Pierce from Minnesota is bittersweet because the nose tackle was terrific on the field — when he played. On the whole, however, Pierce only played in 24% of games after signing his deal with the Vikings. In 2020, he opted out of the season due to COVID precaution — he has asthma — and then the team mismanaged various Pierce injuries in 2021. Overall, Pierce tallied three sacks and twenty combined tackles — in eight games with the Vikings. He was Rick Spielman’s “splash signing” during the 2020 offseason.

Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce (58) celebrates a sack of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) (not pictured) in overtime during an NFL Week 1 football game, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bengals won, 27-24. Minnesota Vikings At Cincinnati Bengals Sept 12

Regardless, his availability was suspect, and Adofo-Mensah has preached since Day One in Minnesota his emphasis on value. While Pierce was a wonderfully productive defender, he simply wasn’t available on Sundays all that much. His replacement, Harrison Phillips, possesses a healthier track record.

The Vikings must still find men to rush the passer in 2022 — the team is immersed in contract discussions with Danielle Hunter this week — but the middle of the defensive line should be set. Phillips, Dalvin Tomlinson, and the upstart Armon Watts form a reasonable threesome to fill out the interior defensive line depth chart.

As for Piece, if health permits, he should start at nose tackle for the 2022 Ravens as last year’s run-stuffer, Brandon Williams, is a free agent.

The Vikings are under the cap by about $2.5 million dollars as of the morning of March 18th, and the team is expected to clear more cap space in the coming days.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. His YouTube Channel, VikesNow, debuts in March 2022. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).