The Minnesota Vikings opened free agency with a pair of signings to help bolster both sides of the ball.
Minnesota made its signing of Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips official while also announcing they’ve agreed to terms with Los Angeles Rams tight end Johnny Mundt. Mundt will sign a two-year contract worth $2.45 million, per Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson.
Mundt has garnered respect from Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell from their time together in Los Angeles. He will be an integral piece to help install O’Connell’s offensive scheme and philosophy in Minnesota.
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Mundt Well-Regarded Among New Vikings Coaches
Mundt doesn’t have flashy career stats. He’s caught just 10 passes for 93 yards on 10 targets in his 47 career games since 2017.
But as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon, Mundt proved his worth in the trenches and on special teams, carving out a five-year stint in Los Angeles and posting top-15 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grades among tight ends twice in that span.
He suffered an ACL injury in 2021 but was in line to be used more as a receiver. O’Connell called Mundt a “vertical threat” in the Rams’ new-look offense with Matthew Stafford.
“I think he’s seen like that because he’s really excelled at that skillset, but Matthew and I were talking about him today, actually, just how much of a vertical threat he can be,” O’Connell said of Mundt in September 2021, per The Rams Wire. “We all saw last year against Chicago, really in a week where we needed him, his playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, yards after catch, different ways we can activate him in our offense. And then, oh, by the way, he’s one of the best, in my opinion, on the edge blocking at the Y position, F position, however you activate those guys.”
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Mundt a Sign the Vikings Will Be Diverse on Offense
Mundt’s familiarity with O’Connell, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips and special teams coordinator Matt Daniels will help provide continuity in the locker room, as well as experience in expectations of the systems the Rams transplants will try to install in the Vikings organization.
Los Angeles was lauded for their commitment to 11 personnel sets (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) after deploying the formation on 83.6% of their offensive snaps.
However, it was largely a commitment to an offensive philosophy made of misfortune when Mundt went down with an ACL tear in October 2021.
“When you’re looking at what we were doing in L.A., at one point we had Robert Woods, we had Cooper Kupp and then we kind of mixed in Odell [Beckham, Jr.] toward the end when Robert was out. So it’s really about the personnel that you have. We were more 12 personnel early in the year when we had a guy in [tight end] Johnny Mundt, who was an effective blocker in 12 personnel to go with [tight end Tyler] Higbee. Later on, that wasn’t the case,” Phillips said, per Vikings.com.
In 2020 with a healthy Mundt and Tyler Higbee, the Rams had several games where they used 12 personnel packages (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) more than any other package.
Mundt joining the Vikings is a sign that O’Connell and Co. will hope to have as many weapons and options on offense as possible.
“Now we go with more 11, and it’s also about how the defense is matching you. But we want to have a lot of different tools as an offense to attack a defense, and maybe sometimes that’s getting bigger,” Phillips added. “They’ve had some success with some different personnel groups here, just watching the tape. They have a really talented fullback (C.J. Ham) here. All those things are intriguing. We’re really just trying to get the best players on the field.”