The Broncos have signed former Vikings defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, according to Mike Klis of Denver's 9News.
George Paton's first offseason as the Broncos' GM after 15 years in Minnesota has now included the signings of two ex-Vikings: Stephen and running back Mike Boone.
This is a solid move by Paton to add defensive tackle depth behind Shelby Harris, Mike Purcell, Dre'Mont Jones, and others. Stephen was out of place as the Vikings' starting three-technique for the past two seasons, but he can be a solid run-stuffer in a rotational role.
The Vikings cut Stephen shortly after signing Dalvin Tomlinson earlier this offseason. Tomlinson is in the same type of run-stuffing three-tech, but is a vastly superior player. The veteran Stephen was no longer needed and his release freed up cap space for Minnesota.
Stephen provided excellent value as a seventh-round pick out of Connecticut in 2014. He played in all 16 games as a rookie, became a starter in his third season, and developed into a solid player for the Vikings. Stephen's best season came in 2017 when he played a rotational role and was excellent against the run.
After spending a year with the Seahawks in 2018 and posting his first career multi-sack season, Stephen returned to Minnesota and started 31 of 32 regular season games over the past two seasons. He became a target of criticism from Vikings fans because he was in over his head as a starter. Stephen remained a decent space-eater up front, but he offers almost nothing as a pass rusher, with a career pressure rate of just 3 percent. That's truly abysmal for a three-tech. Stephen also missed several tackles last season and was merely average against the run, which is supposed to be his calling card.
As a big body on what will likely be a veteran minimum deal, it's a decent pickup for the Broncos. Stephen just wasn't nearly worth the three-year, $12.45 million contract the Vikings signed him to in 2019.
After adding former Vikings Boone and Stephen, might Paton go after linebacker Eric Wilson next? The former UDFA had a productive season for Minnesota in 2020 and can be an asset in coverage. The Broncos could use a linebacker, so that fit might make a lot of sense.
Paton has made a strong first impression in Denver, re-signing Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson, Tim Patrick, and Harris while adding Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller to the secondary. Now he just needs to land a quarterback.
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