Vikings Add DE Jihad Ward, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill

The Vikings have seen their roster transform drastically over the past couple of weeks. Their efforts to continue building on defense have not stopped yet. Today, Minnesota agreed to deals that bring in defensive end Jihad Ward and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, per Vikings senior editor Craig Peters.

Ward is an eight-year veteran who was drafted to the Raiders in the second round of the 2016 Draft out of Illinois. While he was never truly able to live up to that second-round draft status, Ward found himself in some solid contributing roles over the past eight seasons.

After starting all but three games as a rookie and failing to register his first NFL sack, Ward needed offseason surgery after a workout injury that would limit him to just one start in five game appearances during his sophomore campaign. He was traded to Dallas in exchange for Ryan Switzer the following offseason but would sign with the Colts practice squad after failing to make the Cowboys’ 53-man roster to start the year.

Since then, Ward has played on one-year contracts that have taken him from Indianapolis to Baltimore to Jacksonville to New York. He’s never quite hit his stride as a consistent starter, though his last two seasons with the Giants saw him start 20 of 34 game appearances. Ward is coming off the most productive time of his career. Over his two seasons with the Giants, he achieved career-highs in total tackles (43), sacks (5.0), tackles for loss (7), quarterback hits (13), passes defensed (4), and forced fumbles (2). In Minnesota, Ward will likely compete with recent signee Jerry Tillery for a starting position opposite Jonathan Bullard. He joins Tillery and Jonah Williams as the third defensive line addition in free agency.

Grugier-Hill is from the same draft class as Ward, getting selected four rounds later by the Patriots. After failing to make the initial 53-man roster as a rookie in New England, Grugier-Hill signed with Philadelphia, where he would spend the first four years of his career. Despite starting 16 of 26 game appearances over his last two years with the Eagles, Grugier-Hill didn’t break out until his 2021 season with the Texans. Over 20 starts for Houston in 2021 and 2022, Grugier-Hill totaled 148 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, four passes defensed, and an interception that he returned for 82 yards.

After leaving Houston, Grugier-Hill took a minor role with the Cardinals before playing the 2023 season with the Panthers. In a rotation role last year, he started five games and finished sixth on the team in tackles with 56. With the Vikings, Grugier-Hill reunites with former Texans teammate Blake Cashman as the two will compete for the starting job next to Ivan Pace.

The transformation in Minnesota continues. With so many key contributors departing and needing to be replaced, the Vikings continue to evaluate and reload. Vikings fans will be learning a lot of new names and faces as they watch a very different-looking Vikings team in 2024.

View Comments (1)