Vikings Sign Nose Tackle Michael Pierce to Three-Year Deal

Will Ragatz

The Vikings have signed former Ravens nose tackle Michael Pierce to a three-year, $27 million deal, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. ESPN's Josina Anderson first reported that the deal was close to being completed. The deal reportedly comes with $18 million guaranteed and has incentives that could make it worth a maximum of $28 million.

Pierce steps in for Linval Joseph, who was released by the Vikings last week and signed with the Chargers (two years, $17 million) on Wednesday.

This is a big-time get for Rick Spielman and the Vikings. Pierce is just a year removed from a 2018 season in which he received an elite 91.0 grade (fifth-best among all defensive tackles) from Pro Football Focus. He was also outstanding in 2017, and will look to bounce back from a 2019 campaign in which he was merely above-average. An ankle injury caused him to miss two games last season and was apparently a lingering issue in other games, so that could be part of the reason for his decline in effectiveness.

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The 27-year-old Pierce stands 6 feet tall and is a behemoth of a man at 340 pounds. After going undrafted out of Samford in 2016, he was scooped up by the Ravens and played in 60 of 64 regular season games over the last four years. He has 151 career tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks. But nose tackles' impacts don't always show up on the stat sheet; PFF's high marks for Pierce reflect his ability to occupy double-teams, stop the run, and generally eat up space in the middle of the defensive line. He's also capable of pressuring the quarterback from time to time.

The Vikings are paying slightly less ($9 million AAV) for Pierce than the Chargers are for Joseph ($9.5 million AAV), and Pierce is four years younger.

This is the first external free agent acquisition of the offseason for Spielman and the Vikings. Pierce now joins a defensive tackle group that also includes Shamar Stephen, Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes, and Hercules Mata'afa.

This move could indicate that the Vikings will be unable to re-sign Everson Griffen. Even if that's the case, a defensive line of Danielle Hunter, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Pierce, and either Stephen, Johnson, or a rookie at three-technique looks very solid.

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