It’s a done deal. On Wednesday, the Vikings announced the signing of safety George Iloka.
Iloka was released by the Bengals earlier this week, a move that seemingly came out of nowhere. While Cincinnati preferred to go with younger players in the secondary, plenty of other clubs expressed interest in the hard-hitting veteran. The Cowboys and Raiders both discussed signing Iloka, but he was ultimately drawn to Minnesota in order to reunite with coach Mike Zimmer.
Zimmer was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator for Iloka’s first two seasons before Zimmer went to Minnesota in 2014. When Iloka became a starter in 2013 under Zimmer, the Bengals’ D ranked third in yards allowed per game (305.5) and tied for fifth in points allowed per game (19.1). His relationship with Zimmer nearly led him to sign with the Vikings as a free agent in 2016.
“If I was going there, I was going because of Zim,” Iloka told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press back in ’16. “I know what type of locker room he has there just by the type of coach he is.’’
The Vikings missed out on Iloka, but they did manage to re-sign strong safety Andrew Sendejo to a reasonably priced four-year, $16MM deal. Now, Iloka may take Sendejo’s place in the starting lineup.
This has been a tremendous offseason for the Vikings’ defense, and the team as a whole. In the last six moths, the club has signed quarterback Kirk Cousins, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardon, and now Iloka. They’ve also managed to extend key players such as defensive end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Eric Kendricks, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The last major item on the agenda is an extension with linebacker Anthony Barr, who says he badly wants to stay with the Vikings beyond the final year of his current deal.
Iloka has 76 career starts to his credit with nine career interceptions and two forced fumbles.
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