Ex-Vikings Defender Signed a Humongous Deal in Free Agency

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings retained many free agents, and only a few signed for other teams. Garrett Bradbury, the starting center since 2019, was arguably the most significant free agent the Vikings kept on the team. He signed a three-year deal. Alexander Mattison, backup running back throughout the last four campaigns, returned after agreeing to a two-year contract. He might be in line for a more prominent role, depending on Dalvin Cook’s future.

In addition to the duo, the Vikings re-signed quarterback Nick Mullens, kicker Greg Joseph, long snapper Andrew DePaola, offensive tackle Oli Udoh, defensive lineman Kenny Willekes, and tight end Ben Ellefson. One of the Vikings’ free agents, meanwhile, signed for big money.

Ex-Vikings Defender Signed a Humongous Deal in Free Agency

Ex-Vikings Defender Signed a Humongous Deal in Free Agency
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Star cornerback Patrick Peterson and fellow defender Dalvin Tomlinson signed a new deal after their contracts with the purple team expired, and both made a good amount of money. For Peterson, it was a two-year contract with the Steelers for annually $7 million, but Tomlinson’s deal exceeded that by a lot.

Like Peterson, Tomlinson joined an organization in the AFC North with a former Vikings’ coordinator in the head coaching position. Peterson joined Mike Tomlin, and Tomlinson joined Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland.

The defensive tackle signed a huge deal worth $57 million for four years of service. The average annual salary, $14.25 million, ranks him as the 10th highest-paid defensive tackle in the league.

Tomlinson played mostly well for the Vikings, but it is fair to ask if he is worth that commitment. He’s a good run stuffer with solid pass-rush impact but is not someone who can single-handedly ruin games for opponents like Vita Vea, Chris Jones, or Aaron Donald.

The New Theory for Dalvin
Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (94) pressures Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) causing a fumble during their football game on Sunday, January 1, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. © Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Another wrinkle of the contract is that the Browns can’t get out of the deal without taking a significant dead cap hit because of its structure. Tomlinson’s cap hits in the first two seasons are $4,288,165 and $6,502,000 and skyrocket after that to $19,542,000 in each of 2025 and 2026. In addition, the Browns added two void years to the deal to lower the hits in the first couple of seasons by spreading out the signing bonus over more seasons.

Therefore, the Browns have a problem if Tomlinson’s play declines at some point which is possible, as he’ll turn 33 years old when his contract expires. Cutting him in 2025 would hurt the Browns with a roughly $17 million dead cap hit, and after three seasons in 2026, his dead cap hit is still $12,109,000. After his contract expires and he is off the team, his dead cap hit, because of the void years, is $7,067,000 in 2027.

There’s a good chance that Tomlinson actually sees most or all of the $57 million because of that structure. The deal is insane for a solid but not great player.

Vikings Going Down
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Vikings GM Adofo-Mensah did the right thing when he decided against matching that offer in a crazy market for defensive tackles. Javon Hargrave will get an average of $21 million in the next four seasons from the 49ers despite turning 30 a few weeks ago. Teams are desperate to find some interior pressure and are willing to overpay for it.

The Vikings haven’t filled the void left by Tomlinson yet, and it is one of the biggest roster holes on the team. He played 29 games for the Vikings in the last couple of seasons and recorded 5 sacks, 81 combined tackles, and 5 tackles for loss.

Harrison Phillips, a 2022 free agent signing, returns for a second season, and the team brought back Khyiris Tonga, who played exceptionally well in 2022, granted, in a small sample size.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

On Friday, the purple team added former Packers defender Dean Lowry to the roster, who should slide into the starting unit. Depth pieces are Ross Blacklock, Esezi Otomowo, Sheldon Day, James Lynch, and T.J. Smith.

Adding another free agent or drafting a player is likely. Even a first-round selection at the position can’t be ruled out. Clemson’s Bryan Bresee and Pittsburgh’s Calijah Kancey could be targeted by defensive coordinator Brian Flores in round one.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt