Another Free Agent Reunites with Vikings

NFL: Preseason-Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals
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About 16 Minnesota Vikings players hit free agency at the beginning of the week, and through four days of the event, nearly half will return in 2023.

That percentage climbs even higher if one interprets the February re-signings of Blake Brandel (OT) and Khyiris Tonga (DT) as free-agent reunions, so several 2022 participants will be back in the purple saddle once again this September.

Another Free Agent Reunites with Vikings

And the latest free agent to return for 2023 is backup center Austin Schlottmann.

Free Agent Reunites
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The 27-year-old sticks around after becoming a Viking one year ago and will back up Garrett Bradbury, who also re-signed this week. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero confirmed the move Thursday, “The Vikings agreed to terms to bring back OL Austin Schlottmann, per source.”

The Texas native played in all 16 games last year, starting four when Bradbury was injured and was on the field for 235 offensive snaps. He played about one-fifth of snaps on offense for the Vikings in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first year.

Vikings Place 2 Players
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Schottmann fired up a 48.7 Pro Football Focus Grade in Year No. 1 with the Vikings, akin to his first few seasons with the Denver Broncos. Simply put — Schlottmann was a “depth guy” in 2022 and will probably be the same in 2023.

The Vikings offensive line experienced a pleasant about-face, to an extent, in 2022. With a storefront led by the aforementioned O’Connell, PFF graded Minnesota’s offensive line as the 13th-best in football, a vast improvement from generally ranking in the mid-to-low 20s during the Mike Zimmer era. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was still besieged by the most QB hits in the league — go figure — but on the whole, the trenches improved thanks to the diligence of offensive line coach Chris Kuper.

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Schlottmann was on the field a lot during the 2022 preseason, which is, of course, just preseason. But he looked tremendous in a contest against the San Francisco 49ers, even grading a lofty 92.2 single-game grade. That propelled him to make the 53-man roster at the end of the summer, and he remained the Vikings primary backup center until fracturing his fibula down the stretch of 2022. Right guard Chris Reed took over at center in Bradbury and Schlottmann’s stead.

These are the offensive linemen currently on Minnesota’s depth chart, with more free agency under way and six weeks before the 2023 NFL Draft:

Left Tackle

LT1: Christian Darrisaw
LT2: Blake Brandel
LT3: Vederian Lowe

Right Tackle

RT1: Brian O’Neill


C1: Garrett Bradbury
C2: Austin Schlottmann
C3: Josh Sokol

Left Guard

LG1: Ezra Cleveland

Right Guard

RG1: Ed Ingram
RG2: Chris Reed

The financial terms of Schlottmann’s deal were not immediately available.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by