When Paul Soliai agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons in the opening minutes of free agency, there was mild disappointment among Vikings fans, as he was a guy many people were linking to Minnesota. He's a big NT, which is arguably the second biggest position of need outside of quarterback and maybe cornerback as we hit the NFL New Year.
But that disappointment disappeared when this came across the wire:
Vikings gave former Giants DT Linval Joseph a 5-yr, $31.5 million deal, per source. Big loss for NYG.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2014
Wow. That's a huge deal, in more ways than one.
Listed at 6'-4", 328 pounds, Joseph is a big guy, and a true NT. He's solid against the run (+8.0 per PFF in 2013), and will be the first true NT since Pat Williams clogged up the middle in the glory days of the Williams Wall. He'll be the run stuffing, block absorbing defensive tackle that is being signed to lead the Vikings back to respectability on defense.
Joseph is also a young guy. At 25, he spent his first four years with the New York Giants, registering career totals of 109 tackles and 9 sacks. But make no mistake, he's not being signed for that. He's being signed to help shore up the run, and allow the rest of the line and linebackers to make plays.
Speaking of that defensive line, Mike Zimmer might have something going there. The presumptive starting front four should be Brian Robison, Joseph, Shariff Floyd, and Everson Griffen.
I'll be honest, I never thought Joseph was a guy the Vikings would go after, and after Soliai signed for 5/33 with $14 million guaranteed, it seemed the story about Williams coming back was looking to be more fact than fiction. It still might come to fruition, but that possible signing is now in a whole different light with the Joseph news. Kevin Williams returning for depth would be a solid move, so add him in for one more year and what was a weak link in 2013 has the potential to be much, much better in 2014.
So a few hours in, they get what many people feel is the best young DT available, without paying top dollar, while substantially upgrading what was probably the worst starting NT position in the NFL last season.
This is one of the best signings in free agency so far, and the Vikings defense got better today.
EDIT: Someone asked me to embed the twitter feed from the previous thread, so since this is the overflow thread, here you go. Enjoy.