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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Staying familiar: Vikings retain almost all defensive snaps, again

By Andrew Krammer

Note: This post was originally from March 18 and has since been updated to reflect linebacker Chad Greenway’s re-signing, which was made official on Monday.

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. During the roster overhaul when Mike Zimmer and his staff took over in 2014, they made the defense younger and have since focused primarily on drafting and continuity. While the Vikings made five additions in the first eight days of free agency, including three on defense, even more deals were done with their own players.

Ten of the Vikings’ 14 unrestricted free agents re-signed. Linebacker Chad Greenway, who officially re-signed on a one-year deal Monday, became the seventh defender to ink a new contract, joining cornerback Terence Newman, 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.

Specifically, the Vikings have retained 96.4 percent of snaps from last year’s fifth-ranked scoring defense, according to snap counts by Football Outsiders. They’re keeping the defense together at a league-leading rate. Last year, the Vikings topped all teams in defensive snaps retained (94 percent). The strategy seemed to work, as a defense boasting 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 in February. “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 retain almost all defensive snaps, again appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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