Vikings, among other teams, reached out to Bengals DE Michael Johnson
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The Minnesota Vikings have made their priorities clear on the first day of a three-day window to negotiate with other teams' unrestricted free agents. Teams can begin signing UFAs on Tuesday, March 11 at 3 p.m. CT.
According to 1500ESPN.com contributor Darren Wolfson, the Vikings have contacted defensive end Michael Johnson, who played under first-year Vikings coach Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati.
The #Vikings have also called, as widely expected, on Bengals DE Michael Johnson. Told they are open to both him and Griffen (a priority).— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) March 8, 2014
One source told Wolfson that Johnson has 'lots of suitors,' which is widely expected for one of the top defensive ends available in free agency. The Bengals elected not to franchise tag Johnson again after he played under the tag last season.
The 6-foot-7-inch end would make an easy transition back into the defensive scheme he knows best, one that asks its linemen to prioritize stopping the run first. Still, Johnson was the only defensive end under Zimmer in Cincinnati to rack up double-digit sacks when he did so with 11.5 quarterback takedowns in 2012. Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins had 12.5 sacks the same season.
The Vikings are open to bringing back defensive end Everson Griffen, who made less than $1 million in the final year of his rookie deal in 2013. It's likely the Vikings face stiff competition for Griffen's services, which include experience rushing the passer from a two- and three-point stance.
The Vikings also reached out to Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner on Saturday, along with the St. Louis Rams and New York Jets.