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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Staying familiar: Vikings set to retain almost all defensive snaps, again

By Andrew Krammer

On defense, the Vikings have built their newly competitive franchise.

And keeping that core together has been one of general manager Rick Spielman’s main priorities this offseason. There’s trust internally that coach Mike Zimmer and his staff, given time, can unlock the potential of their current players after the initial roster overhaul in 2014. While they’ve made five additions in eight days of free agency this month, including three on defense, even more deals have been made with their own players.

Nine of 14 unrestricted free agents have already re-signed. Veteran cornerback Terence Newman, who agreed to a one-year deal this week, became the sixth defender to ink a new contract, joining safety Andrew Sendejo, nose tackle Kenrick Ellis, linebacker Audie Cole, cornerback Marcus Sherels and defensive end Justin Trattou. And a multi-year extension is expected for stalwart 27-year-old safety Harrison Smith.

Even as linebacker Chad Greenway, who is expected to re-sign, remains a free agent, they’ve already locked in 91 percent of their defensive snaps from last season. With him, the retention rate for the NFL’s fifth-ranked scoring defense jumps to 96.4 percent, according to snap counts by Football Outsiders.

Last year, the Vikings led the league in defensive snaps retained (94 percent). The strategy seemed to work, as the defense _ which included six former first-round picks _ improved to one of the league’s best in key situations like red zone and third downs.

“Those are the guys that you should know,” Spielman said last month. “If you know them the best, it’s the safest investment. Hopefully. Now you can’t predict injuries, but you should know the warts that they have, if they have any warts, where in the [free agent] market you may not know all that guy’s warts if he has warts.”

Including linebacker Gerald Hodges (152 snaps), who was traded in Week 5 to San Francisco, the only anticipated losses are safety Robert Blanton (231 snaps), linebacker Jason Trusnik (33 snaps), defensive back Shaun Prater (7 snaps) and cornerback Josh Robinson (6 snaps).

The post Staying familiar: Vikings set to retain almost all defensive snaps, again appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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