Vikings Finally Pounce on DT in Free Agency

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It took four days on the open market, but the Minnesota Vikings finally added a defensive tackle from free agency.

Vikings Finally Pounce on DT in Free Agency

He’s Jerry Tillery, a 1st-Round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft. The Vikings have now added four external free-agent defenders, and Tillery will presumably vie for a starter’s job this summer, assuming no more DTs are signed.

free agency
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NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweeted Thursday, “The Vikings are signing DT Jerry Tillery to a one-year deal worth up to $3.75 million, per source. A new home for the former first-round pick.”

Here’s Tillery’s NFL resume to date:

  • Los Angeles Chargers (2019–2022)
  • Las Vegas Raiders (2022–2023)
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And the Pro Football Focus scorecard since entering the NFL five years ago:

  • 2023: 67.7
  • 2022: 49.8
  • 2021: 46.3
  • 2020: 43.9
  • 2019: 35.5

Tillery is a markedly better pass rusher than run-stuffer, though he shouldn’t be considered a quarterback-pressure savant. In NFL-speak, he’s fairly average and never totally effectuated his 1st-Round draft stock. It is unclear if Tillery will start for the 2024 Vikings, but that’s where the offseason can help.

This is the Vikings DT section of the current depth chart:

  • Harrison Phillips
  • Jerry Tillery
  • Jonathan Bullard
  • Jaquelin Roy

At this time last year, Minnesota employed nine defensive tackles, so more could be on the way. In particular, Vikings fans watched as Arik Armstead, another defensive tackle, was released Wednesday and hoped he, not Tillery, would sign on general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s dotted line. While Armstead is still possible, the Tillery acquisition may dampen the likelihood of an Armstead addition.

Also this week, Minnesota added three new defensive players: Jonathan Greenard, an outside linebacker from the Houston Texans, Andrew Van Ginkel, another outside linebacker but from the Miami Dolphins, and inside linebacker Blake Cashman, an Eden Prairie native from the Houston Texans.

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The Vikings, too, have nine picks in April’s draft, an event that could trend defensively in the later rounds, especially if Adofo-Mensah drafts his quarterback of the future after Kirk Cousins bolted for the Atlanta Falcons on Monday.

Minnesota’s defense ranked 24th per DVOA in 2022 under Ed Donatell and improved mightily in 2023 under Brian Flores — to the tune of 11th-best in the NFL. With the new defenders Greenard, Van Ginkel, and Cashman, along with Jonathan Bullard’s return to the depth chart and the Tillery move, plus more help probably on the way, Flores could nudge the Vikings’ defense into the Top 10. That’s the dream.

Flores Flourish
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Tiller will turn 28 in October and has logged 12.5 sacks in 79 career games, 39 of them starts.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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