Vikings Rumors

Extra Points: Brothers, Edmunds, Kirk, Marshall, Poll

Vikings linebacker Kentrell Brothers released a statement following his four-game suspension by the NFL for violating its policy on performance-enhancing drugs, via Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“While it was not my intention to violate any league policies, I understand that it is up to me to be aware of what goes in my body, and I take full responsibility for that. I sincerely apologize to the Vikings organization, my teammates and our fans for my mistake. I take my job as a professional seriously and will continue to support my teammates during this time.”

It has still yet to be revealed what Brothers, a fifth-round pick in 2016, tested positive for. He’ll be able to take part in the team’s entire offseason program, including preseason practices and games.

Brothers appeared in just nine defensive snaps in 2017 but was also a contributor on special teams.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is nearly a lock to be taken in the first round of the upcoming draft. But Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (on Twitter) has been hearing that his older brother, Terrell Edmunds, a safety from Virginia Tech, could also go in the first round.
  • While at a charity event Saturday in Phoenix hosted by Larry Fitzgerald, Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk said he’d visited with the Cardinals, who hold the No. 15 overall pick of the upcoming draft, via Mike Jurecki (on Twitter).
  • Free-agent wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was recently released by the Giants, was also at the charity event and declined comment on his free agency, via Jurecki (on Twitter).
  • USA Today’s Jarrett Bell and Lindsay H. Jones polled 25 agents from around the league on a variety of topics when it comes to dealing with NFL front offices. The 49ers graded out at No. 1 when it came to which team was most prepared in free agency and the Bengals graded out as the worst. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was graded to be the most-trusted executive and Redskins president Bruce Allen was found to be trusted the least.

NFL Suspends Vikings LB Kentrell Brothers

Bad news for Vikings linebacker Kentrell Brothers. The former fifth-round pick has been suspended for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the performance enhancing drug policy, per a league announcement. 

Brothers has appeared in 26 games over the last two seasons for Minnesota. In that time, he has recorded 22 tackles, primarily as a special teamer. Per league rules, he’ll be able to practice with the team and play in the preseason, but will be sidelined for Weeks 1-4.

In other Vikings news, offensive lineman Nick Easton inked his RFA tender this week. The Vikings also finalized a mammoth extension with linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: ‘Hawks, Thomas, Kaep

Seahawks GM John Schneider says he has not talked to Earl Thomas‘ representatives since the combine, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets. However, Schneider added that is not unusual. Despite his name being floated in trade rumors this offseason, the GM says that he hopes to have Thomas on the roster when the season begins.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Vikings OL Nick Easton Signs RFA Tender

Vikings offensive lineman Nick Easton has signed his second-round restricted free agent tender, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Easton will now be paid $2.914MM for the 2018 campaign.

Minnesota and Easton have mutual interest in hammering out a long-term agreement, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pionner Press. Easton won’t hit unrestricted free agency until next spring, so the Vikings have plenty of time to work out an extension.

The Vikings have invested heavily in their offensive line over the past year, as they inked free agent tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers while deploying a third-round pick on Pat Elflein, who became the club’s starting center in his rookie season. Easton, a former undrafted free agent, spent most of his 2017 time at left guard, and played 92% of Minnesota’s offensive snaps overall. Pro Football Focus ranked the 25-year-old as the No. 58 guard among 77 qualifiers a year ago.

Easton was one of 14 NFL restricted free agents to be tendered at the second-round level. There was no rush for Easton to ink his tender, as RFAs have until April 20 to work out offer sheets with other clubs. However, it was unlikely that any NFL team would have been willing to sacrifice a second-round pick in order to land Easton.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Sign Eric Kendricks To Extension

The Vikings have signed linebacker Eric Kendricks to a contract extension, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a five-year, $50MM deal with $25MM guaranteed. 

Kendricks, a product of the 2015 draft, was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. Because he was a second round pick, the Vikings did not have the option of extending him via the fifth-year option.

The linebacker earned his big money deal after leading the Vikings in tackles in each of his first three seasons. In total, he has racked up 314 regular season tackles, plus 24 in the postseason. Last year, he set a new career high with 113 tackles and played on 1,099 snaps which was good for seventh amongst all linebackers in the NFL.

Kendricks’ work against the pass has helped the Vikings bottle up opposing tight ends as well as pass-catching running backs. Last year, the Vikings D allowed the fewest passing yards to opposing tailbacks in the league. Meanwhile, Football Outsiders had them ranked as the top overall defense in the NFL.

The Vikings have several defensive stars locked up with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, safety Harrison Smith, defensive end Everson Griffen, defensive tackle Linval Joseph, and Kendricks under contract for multiple seasons. There’s still some work to be done, however, with linebacker Anthony Barr and edge rusher Danielle Hunter on the agenda.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Meet With CB Dontae Johnson

The Vikings hosted former 49ers cornerback Dontae Johnson on a free agent visit, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Johnson, a 2014 fourth round pick, started in 16 games for the Niners last season. 

Johnson served as a reserve for the first three years of his career, but stepped up into a larger role in 2017. Going by the advanced metrics, it wasn’t necessarily a success. The 26-year-old ranked near the bottom of Football Outsiders’ yards allowed per pass and success rate. Meanwhile, he graded out as the third worst qualified corner in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, as he placed 118th out of 121 possible players.

The Vikings lost a supporting cornerback this offseason when Tramaine Brock signed with the Broncos. Marcus Sherels has been retained with a new deal, but the status of 39-year-old Terence Newman remains up in the air. If signed, Johnson would provide Minnesota with some depth in the secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Browns, Janis, Wright

Here’s a look at the details of some recent free agent deals:

  • The Browns got former Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis on a one-year, $1.25MM deal with no guaranteed money, Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel tweets. He’ll have to make the 53-man roster to earn any cash, but the deal does include a $100K workout bonus. If he sticks, the contract will call for a $1.25MM cap number.
  • Wide receiver Kendall Wright’s deal with the Vikings is worth $1MM with $400K guaranteed, Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune tweets. The pack includes an $800K base salary, $100K signing bonus, and a $100K workout bonus.
  • Tight end Bucky Hodges’ contract with the Jets is a two-year deal worth $1.075MM, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. The pact includes a $25K roster bonus if he is on the 53-man roster in Week 1.

NFL Draft Rumors: Bucs, Packers, James

Florida State safety Derwin James spent Wednesday meeting with the Buccaneers and will sit down with the Packers on Thursday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). James, the No. 9 ranked safety in the draft per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, offers versatility with experience at both safety spots, nickel cornerback, and even outside linebacker. He arguably performs better when playing closer to the line, so the team that drafts him will likely look to continue using him in multiple roles.

Here’s more NFL Draft news:

  • NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb met with the Buccaneers on Wednesday and is visiting the Giants on Thursday, Rapoport tweets. Chubb has another top 5 team visit next week, Rapoport notes, but he did not specify the club.
  • Wisconsin linebacker Jack Cichy was with the Vikings on Wednesday, Rapoport tweets. Cichy suffered an ACL tear in the summer that prevented him from seeing the field in 2017. Before the injury, he was considered a first-round prospect and he could still come off the board in Day 2 if he demonstrates that he is healthy.
  • Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward is visiting the 49ers on Thursday, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). The Niners pick No. 9 overall and he could be a possibility for San Francisco there. SF will also meet with Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter.
  • The Bears met with a pair of top defensive backs in Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Rapoport tweets. Fitzpatrick previously visited the Buccaneers. The Bears own the No. 8 pick in the draft, so they could be in range for both players.
  • The Vikings met with University of Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams and Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Rapoport tweets. Jeremiah has Williams ranked as the No. 21 prospect in this year’s draft while McGlinchey is at No. 35.
  • Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans visited the Dolphins (No. 11) this week, Rapoport tweets. Evans, who played all over in Bama’s front seven, offers strong coverage against both tight ends and running backs.
  • Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne is meeting with the Falcons, according to Rapoport.
  • The Buccaneers, who own the No. 7 pick in the first round, had former Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson in for a visit on Wednesday, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

Vikings To Host TE Dallas Goedert

  • The tight end contingent has begun making key trips recently. Hayden Hurst is visiting the Jaguars on Tuesday, and the Saints have already put the South Carolina pass-catcher through a workout, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. Meanwhile, the Vikings will host South Dakota State’s Dallas Goedert on a visit beginning Tuesday night, per Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com (on Twitter).