Formerly a Bears third-round pick, Bullard, 28, will return to the NFC North after a fairly well-rounded tour of the conference over the past three seasons. The Florida alum spent 2019 with Cardinals, 2020 with the Seahawks and 2021 as a Falcon. He has provided a rotational presence for each team.
The six-year veteran will see multiple familiar faces on Minnesota’s staff. In Minnesota, Bullard will reunite with Ed Donatell, who was a Chicago staffer during Bullard’s three-year Bears run. Perhaps more significantly, new Vikings defensive line coach Chris Rumph was the Gators’ D-line coach during Bullard’s final Gainesville season.
As a pro, Bullard has managed to make 15 starts, having lined up as a first-stringer for three of his four NFL teams. Last season, Bullard made four starts with the Falcons. His high-water mark came with the Cards, who used him as a six-game starter. Bullard only has 3.5 career sacks and 13 tackles for loss, but the veteran interior D-lineman has hung around, playing at least 200 defensive snaps in five of his six seasons.
The Vikings added Harrison Phillips early in free agency but have not re-signed Sheldon Richardson. The team, which is moving to a 3-4 scheme for the first time in decades, drafted Esezi Otomewo in the fifth round.
To make room on their offseason roster, the Vikings waived defensive lineman Kenny Willekes with an injury designation. A 2020 seventh-round pick, Willekes played in six games last season. Despite the limited game log, the Michigan State product recorded 2.5 sacks and seven QB hits. Willekes will revert to the Vikings’ injured reserve if he clears waivers.