4 Vikings players who could get first Pro Bowl nod in 2020

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Anthony Harris
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Anthony Harris /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Rob Carr /Getty Images) Michael Pierce /

Michael Pierce – DT

Linval Jr. has entered the chat.

In March, the Vikings ended a six-season relationship with Linval Joseph and saved themselves around $10 million against their 2020 salary cap. Joseph went on to sign with the Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota went shopping for his replacement.

What they found was a man in Michael Pierce who is around the same body mass as Joseph, but just a few inches shorter. Pierce may even be about 10 pounds heavier than Joseph, which is massively impressive.

With the Vikings, Joseph was a two-time Pro Bowler and Pierce will hope to at least replicate this. In 2019, Pierce ranked fourth in the NFL among defensive tackles in missed tackle percentage (2.8 percent). He was only topped in this metric by Nick Williams, Tyeler Davison, and Joseph.

Just as Joseph did for Minnesota in his 88 games with the team, Pierce will anchor the defensive line at nose tackle. He’s a run-stuffer with a bit of zeal for pass-rushing.

You might recall in your youth that you tended to get one “big gift” from your parents around Christmas time. Pierce was the Vikings’ “big gift” in free agency this offseason and will likely show productive reciprocity as the team’s full-time run-stopper.

Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer has a verifiable history in developing nose tackles with Domata Peko when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals and, of course, Joseph. Pierce could very well be the next beneficiary.