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Same as it ever was: Vikings’ new brain trust has same old idea on first day of legal tampering

Syndication: Democrat And Chronicle
Bills Harrison Phillips recovered a fumble my Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Does this sound familiar?

The Vikings reached their first agreement of the NFL’s legal tampering period on Monday night by agreeing to terms with a defensive tackle. That’s right, for the third consecutive year, and with a new general manager and coach, the team again addressed the middle of the defensive line.

This time it was former Buffalo defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who will be asked to anchor the Vikings’ new 3-4 base defense. Phillips reportedly will sign a three-year, $19.5 million contract. Former general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer signed Michael Pierce to a three-year, $27 million free agent deal in 2020 and then added Dalvin Tomlinson on a two-year, $21 million last offseason.

It was expected new GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell would go in a different direction by prioritizing the offensive line (center, guard or both) or cornerback. Instead a team that started the day over the salary cap decided to follow Spielman and Zimmer’s blue print.

Pierce declined to take a pay cut and the ability to hit free agency next March and instead will be released by the Vikings, according to SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson. Pierce sat out the 2020 season because of COVID-related concerns and was limited to eight games last season because of injury.

The 26-year-old Phillips, a third-round pick in 2018 by the Bills from Stanford, started eight of the 14 games in which he played last season. He had 51 tackles, 21 pressures and a sack and had a 77.4 grade from Pro Football Focus on nearly 500 snaps.

The NFL’s new league year opens at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Agreements can be finalized at that time and the Vikings will have to be in compliance with the league’s $208.2 million salary cap for 2022. They are currently $2.5 million over that figure, according to the Over the Cap website.