Jonah Williams (DL)

Vikings Targeting DL, CB This Summer

In a recent mailbag Q&A, Alec Lewis of The Athletic noted two positions that are likely to be subject to additions this summer and in free agency next year for the Vikings: defensive tackle and cornerback. While there were some attempts to address each position already this offseason, there is likely much more work to be done in Minnesota.

On the defensive line, Minnesota is running it back with Harrison Phillips and Jonathan Bullard as two of their starters in a three-man front. Unfortunately, neither really stood out as strong players at their position with Lewis noting specifically that Phillips and Bullard ranked as two of the worst interior pass rushers in the NFL last year. Last year’s fifth-round rookie Jaquelin Roy could potentially take the next step after playing in an extremely minor role last season.

The team did make two free agent additions, signing Jerry Tillery and Jonah Williams back in March. Tillery had a bit of a resurgent season last year in Las Vegas after falling out of favor with the Chargers. Williams saw his first full-time starting role for the Rams last year, starting all but one game in 2023. This provides a bevy of options as the Vikings plan their rotation on the defensive line. It’s hard to say just how much of an improvement this will be; it will really depend on who steps up this summer to grab starting positions.

That being said, all four of Phillips, Bullard, Tillery, and Williams have expiring contracts after this season. Lewis notes that this will make the position just as much of a position-of-focus next year in free agency, as well. While one or a few of the above names may prove to be worth re-signing, Lewis already pegs veteran division-rival Kenny Clark as a target free agent next spring. He tabs Patriots defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and Eagles pass rusher Josh Sweat as potential targets, as well.

At cornerback, Byron Murphy and Akayleb Evans return as two starters while veteran Shaquill Griffin comes in as a new starter on the outside, allowing Murphy to play a bit more in the slot, if necessary. Evans has overperformed as a recent fourth-round pick, while his draft classmate Andrew Booth, a former second-rounder, has failed to establish himself in the rotation. There are no real stars in this position group, though Griffin has displayed the ability to be one of the better players at the position in past years.

Like on the defensive line, though, Murphy and Griffin will both be free agents next year, making cornerback a position of focus in 2025, as well. As for future targets at cornerback, Lewis likes Jets corner D.J. Reed and San Francisco’s Charvarius Ward.

None of the free agents Lewis suggests are necessarily stars at their position, and most are in their older years, but all would provide an improvement to what the Vikings currently have on the roster. There are still several months for Minnesota to continue addressing those positions, and there’s still every possibility that the current Vikings will step up and prove that they belong and are good enough to keep around beyond this year.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Reader

Coleman Shelton started every Rams game at center last season, and the former UDFA logged a few starts there during the 2022 season. The Bears gave Shelton only a one-year, $3MM deal, however. Already rostering guards Teven Jenkins and Nate Davis, the Bears may view Shelton as a backup. This is because Chicago acquired Ryan Bates from Buffalo. Given a Bears RFA offer sheet in 2022, Bates remains attached to that contract (four years, $17MM). He looks more likely to be the favorite for Bears center duties than Shelton,’s Courtney Cronin notes.

Bates, 27, does not have a notable history at center. At Penn State, he primarily played left tackle. The Bills used him primarily at guard, with Mitch Morse previously entrenched at center. Despite Buffalo matching the 2022 Chicago offer sheet, the team added two new guards — Connor McGovern, O’Cyrus Torrence — in 2023. Bates did not start a game for the Bills last season, but the ex-UDFA looks set to have a good shot at taking over at center for the Bears.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • The Bears’ four-year, $76MM Jaylon Johnson extension features an out in 2026. The deal calls for $10.6MM of Johnson’s $15.1MM 2026 base salary to be guaranteed for injury, but no skill guarantees are in place beyond 2025. KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes $7.6MM of Johnson’s 2026 base will shift to a full guarantee if the Pro Bowl cornerback is on the roster by that date. With no true guarantees on this deal post-2025, the Bears could get out with just $5MM in dead money (in the event of a post-June 1 cut) in 2026.
  • The Vikings have been active in using void years under GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. This practice cost the team when Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Tomlinson departed, but it is turning to cap space-saving measure heavily this year as well. Minnesota included four void years in Sam Darnold, Aaron Jones and Andrew Van Ginkel‘s deals, with three void years used to spread out the three-year, $22.5MM Blake Cashman contract’s cap hits. While this will create some dead money if these players are not re-signed before their contracts officially expire, the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling observes it created some cap space in the event the Vikes need to carry a bigger 2024 cap number for Justin Jefferson, who has been on the extension radar for two years. That said, Jefferson’s 2024 cap figure is already at $19.7MM on the fifth-year option.
  • Looking elsewhere on the Vikings’ payroll, their Jonathan Greenard deal (four years, $76MM) features $42MM in total guarantees. The contract includes $4MM guaranteed for 2026, per Goessling. Though, that money is classified as injury guarantees, providing the Vikes — like the Bears with Johnson — some flexibility down the road on a $19MM-AAV contract.
  • Rounding up some Minnesota contract matters, Goessling adds Shaquill Griffin‘s one-year contract is worth $4.55MM and features $3.99MM fully guaranteed. The Vikings are giving Jonathan Bullard a one-year, $2.25MM deal to stay, per Goessling, who adds Dan Feeney‘s contract to come over from the Bears is worth $1.8MM. Jonah Williams, the defensive lineman, signed a one-year, $1.5MM deal that includes $350K guaranteed, Goessling offers. Jihad Ward‘s one-year accord is worth $1.8MM and includes $1MM guaranteed, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan tweets.
  • Initially labeled as being worth up to $27.25MM, D.J. Reader‘s Lions pact contains $22MM in base value. The Lions are only guaranteeing the veteran nose tackle $7.4MM at signing, per OverTheCap. Coming off his second quad tear in four years, Reader would receive a $4MM roster bonus on Day 3 of the 2025 league year. That date will certainly be pivotal for his Detroit future.
  • Arrested on a fourth-degree DWI charge in December, Vikings OC Wes Phillips pleaded guilty to a lesser charge recently. The third-year Minnesota OC pleaded guilty to a careless driving charge, Fox 9’s Jeff Wald notes. Phillips, 45, agreed to pay a $378 fine and will serve eight hours of community service.

Vikings To Sign DL Jonah Williams

After spending a single day with the Vikings in 2021, Jonah Williams will be eyeing a longer stay in Minnesota this time around. The defensive lineman will be signing with the Vikings, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Williams will be inking a one-year deal worth up to $1.5MM, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minnesota. Fowler adds that the deal contains $350K in guaranteed money. Williams visited with the organization earlier today.

The former UDFA spent a year-plus with the Rams to begin his career before getting waived during the 2021 campaign. He caught on with the Vikings, but Minny cut bait following a failed physical. Williams landed back on the Rams practice squad and proceeded to win a Super Bowl ring that season.

He saw a bigger role over the past two years, culminating in a 2023 campaign where he started 16 of his 17 appearances. Williams finished the season having compiled 49 tackles and a pair of sacks, but Pro Football Focus only graded him 88th among 130 qualifying interior defenders.

In Minnesota, Williams will reunite with defensive line coach Marcus Dixon, who previously served as an assistant on the Rams staff. Williams also crossed paths with Vikings head coach (and former Rams OC) Kevin O’Connell in Los Angeles. The Vikings have been busy this season adding veteran reinforcement to the defensive line. In addition to re-signing Jonathan Bullard, the Vikings have also signed Jerry Tillery.

DL Jonah Williams To Visit Vikings, Cardinals

Jonah Williams has only played for the Rams during his NFL career, but he has been connected to other teams as well. The former undrafted defensive lineman is a free agent, and he is again drawing interest from a number of potential suitors.

Williams saw action in eight games with Los Angeles in 2021 before the arrival of Von Miller. The former was waived and ultimately claimed by the Vikings. A failed physical nixed his Minnesota deal, however, and the 28-year-old wound up back with the Rams for the past two seasons. Williams is again on the Vikings’ radar, however.

The Weber State product is visiting with Minnesota today, per a team announcement. As Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports, the Cardinals will host Williams tomorrow. He adds that multiple teams have interest at this point, and it comes as little surprise the Vikings and Cardinals are among them. Minnesota won out in the team’s Williams acquisition effort back in 2021, but Arizona also put in a waiver claim on him.

The Vikings’ defensive front has seen edge rushers Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum depart in free agency. While additions aimed at replacing them have arrived (Jonathan GreenardAndrew Van Ginkel), the only move along the interior so far has been a deal with Jerry Tillery. Williams has played as a 4-3 defensive end at times, but for the most part he has been used on the inside.

Of course, the Cardinals’ offseason has included a deal with the other Jonah Williams (that is, the former Bengals first-rounder who will man the right tackle spot in Arizona). The defender of the same name would add depth at the DL spot alongside new arrivals Justin Jones, Bilal Nichols and Khyiris Tonga. Both the Cardinals and Vikings have the cap space to make more free agent moves if they so desire.

Williams served in a rotational role upon his return to Los Angeles in 2022. Last season, however, he started 16 games while logging a 53% snap share. That uptick in playing time resulted in 49 tackles and a pair of sacks, and Williams could price himself away from the Rams if a strong market emerges. His departure would further compound the Rams’ need to re-invest along the D-line, something which is already a priority given Aaron Donald‘s retirement.

NFL Reserve/Futures Deals: 2/15/22

Today’s Reserve/Futures deals signed in the NFL:

Cincinnati Bengals

Los Angeles Rams

New York Giants

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DE Jonah Williams Fails Physical With Vikings

Jonah Williams won’t be playing for the Vikings after all. The defensive end failed his physical with his new team and won’t be joining the organization, reports Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Williams’ physical ended up revealing a hernia.

The 2020 undrafted free agent finally made his NFL debut this season, and he ended up seeing time in eight games for the Rams. Along with special team duties, the defensive lineman also got a handful of defensive snaps each game. In total, he’s collected five tackles this season.

Following the arrival of Von Miller earlier this week, the Rams decided to move on from Williams. He ended up being a popular name on the waiver wire, as the Chargers and Cardinals also tried to claim the 26-year-old. The hernia is a discouraging development for the player, but another organization may be willing to overlook that and add him to the active roster.

The Vikings will likely continue to search for some DL support, now that Danielle Hunter has been ruled out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle.

Chargers, Cardinals Tried To Claim Jonah Williams

New Vikings defensive end Jonah Williams was pretty popular on the waiver wire. After he was cut by the Rams, the Chargers and Cardinals also submitted claims on him. (Twitter link via Field Yates of 

[RELATED: Rams Have Discussed Extension With Miller’s Camp]

The Vikings won out, thanks to their 3-4 record. As a refresher, the league’s waiver priority goes by inverted current season record at this stage of the league year, rather than previous year’s record. Therefore, the Chargers (4-3) and Cardinals (7-1) were further down the list.

Williams, 26, saw time in all eight of the Rams’ games before he was cut loose. If not for the arrival of Von Miller, the Rams likely would have kept him for the year. Miller marks a significant upgrade for the Rams’ front seven and they’re already discussing his future beyond 2021.

The Vikings could still use some DL support, now that Danielle Hunter has been ruled out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle. The Cardinals — who are without J.J. Watt — will also keep an eye out for available linemen.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/3/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/18/21

With the Ravens, Browns, and Rams getting eliminated from the playoffs over the weekend, both teams announced their slew of reserve/futures deals on Monday. As a reminder, these are all non-guaranteed deals, usually for practice squad type players, to help teams flesh out their 90-man offseason rosters.

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Los Angeles Rams

Rams Claim LB Justin Hollins, Add 15 To Practice Squad

The Rams left their roster at 52 players after cutdown day, and the team filled the roster spot with a player familiar with their new defensive coordinator.

Los Angeles submitted a waiver claim for Justin Hollins, a linebacker whom Denver cut Saturday, and the 2019 draft pick will rejoin Brandon Staley. The Broncos used Hollins at both inside and outside linebacker spots last season; Staley coached Denver’s outside linebackers in 2019.

This will bring another ex-Staley pupil to L.A. The Rams already signed Leonard Floyd, whom Staley coach in Chicago, to be a starter. Hollins, a fifth-round pick out of Oregon, profiles as a depth piece.

The Rams also set their practice squad Sunday. All 15 players were in camp with the Rams this year, so for those hoping to go in fresh for the Hard Knocks finale next week, this is the spoiler warning.

Here is how the Rams’ practice squad looks: