While the Minnesota Vikings are likely going to be in the market to add more depth to their defensive line, whether it’s through free agency or the draft, they’re interested in bringing back one of their starting defensive tackles from last season in a reduced role.
Sebastian Thunderbucket Tom Johnson played about 70% of the Vikings’ defensive snaps in 2017, and the team wants to bring him back in 2018. If they do that, however, they’d like to reduce the number of snaps he plays, according to Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“I think Tom has some left,” head coach Mike Zimmer told the Star Tribune. “But I think we got to use him in the right way. He wanted to prove he could play the run — and he did. I think it took a toll out of him. I think his best thing is if he’s just used on certain passing downs, try to limit his reps to 30ish, you know, a game. Maybe 25, I think that would help.”
If the Vikings don’t work something out with Johnson prior to the start of free agency on 14 March, he is expected to have a market for his services. One possible destination that Krammer mentions is the Oakland Raiders, though I’m not sure of any direct connection that Johnson would have with the silver and black. (Krammer’s article mentions Raiders’ DC Paul Guenther, who was an assistant under Zimmer in Cincinnati, but I don’t think he’s ever coached Tom Johnson at any point.)
I believe that the Vikings would like to get Jaleel Johnson, their fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, onto the field more in 2018. But with fellow defensive tackle Shamar Stephen set to hit free agency as well, the Vikings might find themselves in a position where it would behoove them to bring Tom Johnson back for depth purposes. While he did show that he could be a full-time tackle, he’s not getting any younger (he’ll be 34 by the time next season starts), he would likely be more effective as a part-time player going forward.
Do you want the team to bring Tom Johnson back for 2018? Do you think he should remain a starter or do you want to see his number of snaps reduced?