Vikings Veteran Back for Year 5
From Garrett Bradbury and Greg Joseph to Alexander Mattison, among others, welcoming back unrestricted free agents is a Minnesota Vikings theme this week.
The club followed suit Saturday morning by re-signing offensive tackle Oli Udoh.
Vikings Veteran Back for Year 5
Udoh, 26, is the latest reunion amid a Vikings offseason where the team’s leaders have reiterated a “championship standard” and aspirations to once again contend for the playoffs and an elusive Super Bowl in 2023.
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert tweeted about the Udoh transaction on day No. 6 of free agency, “The Vikings have agreed to terms with OL Oli Udoh, who was an unrestricted free agent. Udoh started two games last season at tackle, including one in the playoffs, after starting 16 in 2021 as a guard. Depth at both positions.”
The news of Udoh returning for a fifth season arrives two days after general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed reservist center Austin Schlottmann and four days following Garrett Bradbury’s contract extension. Offensive line continuity is a Vikings offseason priority.
Here’s the updated lay of the land for Minnesota’s OL roster — it’s the same as last year:
LT1: Christian Darrisaw
LT2: Blake Brandel
LT3: Vederian Lowe
RT1: Brian O’Neill
RT: Oli Udoh
C1: Garrett Bradbury
C2: Austin Schlottmann
C3: Josh Sokol
LG1: Ezra Cleveland
RG1: Ed Ingram
RG2: Chris Reed
Udoh replaced one of the elite linemen in the game when Brian O’Neill went down with an injury in Week 17 in Green Bay. Earlier in the year, Udoh wasn’t even the primary backup, as the team inserted Blake Brandel into the lineup when Christian Darrisaw missed time. However, Brandel was hurt with a torn MCL, so Udoh was the next man up. And in the three games, Udoh allowed exactly one quarterback pressure in each game, a commendable stat.
Before 2022, Udoh’s stock was actually quite low, especially among fans. The Vikings coaching regime before Kevin O’Connell’s flipped Udoh to right guard from offensive tackle, an unnatural position for the Elon alumnus. Udoh struggled at guard and was most famous for penalties, recording the second-most in the NFL in 2021.
However, when O’Connell came to town, he immediately swapped Udoh back to tackle, and as a backup to O’Neill, the plan emphatically worked. Here’s Udoh’s Pro Football Focus tale of the tape since joining the Vikings in the 6th Round of the 2019 NFL Draft:
- 2019 = 53.4
- 2020 = 60.8
- 2021 = 54.4 (RG)
- 2022 = 73.6
Udoh has always performed well at tackle, so the announcement of his return was received with praise from Vikings fans on social media. With the aforementioned O’Neill recovering from a partially-torn Achilles,’ there’s a small chance Udoh experiences early-season playing time in 2023.
These Vikings unrestricted free agents remained unsigned as of Saturday morning:
- Kris Boyd (CB)
- Jonathan Bullard (DL)
- Bisi Johnson (WR)
- Duke Shelley (CB)
- Irv Smith (TE)
- Chandon Sullivan (CB)
- Adam Thielen (WR)
Udoh’s deal is reportedly for one year and $2.58 million.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).