4 Vikings players already fighting for their futures this season

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Anthony Harris
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) Anthony Harris /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) Jaleel Johnson /

Jaleel Johnson – DT

Jaleel Johnson has an unenviable task ahead of him this season. Not only did the Vikings lose Pro Bowl defensive tackle Linval Joseph in free agency, but they were dealt another hammer blow when recent acquisition Michael Pierce opted out of his first campaign with the organization due to COVID-19 health concerns.

This piled more pressure on Johnson to deliver the goods, something that he has not done consistently as yet. The interior lineman has had some nice moments in his career, but more was expected when one considers just how much talent departed Minnesota’s defensive front during the offseason.

Johnson has the talent to turn things around. He is a big body who is hard to move off the block when he’s at the top of his game. But the player has found life difficult in pursuit of making the sort of impact Mike Zimmer was hoping for before competitive action got underway.

The former fourth-round pick has yet to register a sack or a tackle for loss over four games. This has earned Johnson a lowly 41.9 grade from Pro Football Focus and this is not the opening to proceedings that the player envisioned heading into the last year of his rookie deal.

If things trend in the same direction for Johnson in the coming weeks, then he is going to be looking for a new home in free agency.