Vikings’ Richardson, Johnson eager to show Seahawks what they’re missing
EAGAN, Minn. -- Two Vikings defensive tackles will have added incentive Monday, Dec. 4, at Seattle.
Sheldon Richardson played for the Seahawks last season before getting what he called a “terrible” contract offer and leaving as a free agent to sign a one-year, $8 million deal with Minnesota.
Tom Johnson signed a one-year, $2.1 million deal with Seattle last March after four years with the Vikings but lasted just one regular-season game. Released because the Seahawks needed a roster spot, he returned to Minnesota on a one-year, $1 million deal.
“I’m definitely going there to make a statement,” Johnson said.
Richardson replaced Johnson this season as Minnesota’s starting three-technique tackle but Johnson has played plenty since his return. Before signing with the Vikings, Richardson said, the Seahawks only offered him “like four or five million.”
“The contract they offered me was terrible,’’ Richardson said. “It wasn’t what they told me when I left after the exit meetings. I don’t know who came up with the numbers. When my agent told me the offer, I told him, ‘They can keep that.’ They set my market low.”
Had the Seahawks offered Richardson a deal similar to what the Vikings gave him, Richardson said, he never would have left. He had been acquired by Seattle from the New York Jets just before the start of the 2017 season.
“The season was good,” Richardson said. “They just never really fully committed to me. … But it will be fun going against those guys. I don’t have any enemies on the team — in the locker room.”
One thing did irk Richardson last season: having just one sack.
“They took me off the field,” he said. “I stopped playing on third downs for about four or five weeks.”
Richardson has 3 1/2 sacks this season and leads the Vikings in quarterback hurries. Johnson also has 3 1/2 sacks in nine games since returning in Week 3.
“They know what the deal is,’’ Johnson said of the Seahawks. “They know what I am and how I play. I’m sure compared with the guys that they have that I would be a good addition to … what they’ve got going on.”
Johnson is still a bit miffed at what happened after he started the first game of this season. The Seahawks promoted safety Shalon Luani from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and released Johnson, despite the fact that his salary was guaranteed.
“I didn’t agree with it, but it was a business decision,” Johnson said. “They didn’t want to put one of their younger guys (on the waiver wire), and D-line was the only position that didn’t have any injuries. It didn’t have anything to do with my talent and or my ability. Obviously, I’m the better player, but it was a strategic thing.”
Luani didn’t even play that week, and Seattle’s plan to re-sign Johnson to a minimum contract worth $915,000 fell apart when the Vikings swooped in and signed him to a deal that could be worth as much as $1.5 million with incentives.
“This was a good situation,” Johnson said. “If I wasn’t going back to Seattle, I was going to a position I felt like was good for me.”
Between his two contracts, Johnson will make at least $3 million this season.
“As a player, I’m happy he got to double dip and get paid by two organizations,” said Cliff Avril, a Seahawks defensive end from 2013-17 who has a radio show on Seattle station KJR. “But I didn’t think it was a good move (for Seattle). That D-line is extremely young, and you lose a veteran.”
As for Richardson, Avril was happy to see him get a big deal with the Vikings.
“Around free agency, I talked to him,” Avril said. “I said, ‘Listen, bro, you’ve got to get your money. (The Seahawks) try to preach loyalty and all this other stuff, but you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family because this window (as an NFL player) is extremely short.’