MINNEAPOLIS -- It appears the Minnesota Vikings won't be bringing one of new coach Mike Zimmer's former defensive pupils to the Twin Cities.
According to a league source, the team is out of the running for former Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, who posted 11 ½ sacks in Zimmer's defense in 2012 and figures to be one of the hottest targets when free agency opens on Tuesday. The source said the Vikings didn't turn down Johnson; rather, things just didn't pan out between the two sides.
The Vikings had expressed interest in Johnson shortly after the start of the free-agency negotiating period on Saturday afternoon, but finished a five-year, $42.5 million deal with Everson Griffen on Sunday morning. That seemed to reduce the chances of Johnson coming to Minnesota, since the Vikings had committed $33.15 million in guaranteed money to Griffen and Brian Robison in a pair of contracts over the past five months. The Vikings would still have the cap room to pursue Johnson and possibly use Griffen in a variety of roles, but for whatever reason, Johnson won't be coming to Minnesota.
At this point, the Vikings might be better served spending a good chunk of their remaining money on their leaky secondary. They had expressed interest in Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner, who is believed to have a number of suitors and could sign shortly after the start of free agency on Tuesday. The Vikings also could use a nose tackle, and brought in former Baltimore Ravens linebacker D'Qwell Jackson for a visit on Monday.
However they plan to stock their defense, they won't be doing it by bringing Johnson to Minnesota. We'll see how the rest of the Vikings' plan unfolds once free agency starts on Tuesday afternoon.