EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Wednesday announced they have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and tight end Johnny Mundt to open the NFL's 2022 free agency period.
Phillips is joining Minnesota after playing in 45 regular-season games (12 starts) for the Buffalo Bills since 2017. He also has appeared in five playoff games over the past two postseasons, starting both contests this past year.
Since joining the Bills as a third-round pick (96th overall) in 2018, Phillips has totaled 51 tackles (28 solo), a sack, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery in regular-season games under Bills Defensive Coordinator and former Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier.
View photos of new Vikings DT Harrison Phillips who joined the team during free agency.
Phillips was nominated by the Bills in each of the past two seasons for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and was one of five league finalists for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award in 2020.
The addition of Phillips followed Minnesota's release Tuesday of Michael Pierce, a defensive tackle who was signed during free agency in 2020. Pierce opted out of that season because of COVID-19 concerns heightened by his asthma. He returned to action in 2021 but battled injuries and appeared in eight games.
Phillips double majored (sociology and science, technology and society) at Stanford University — one of new Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's alma maters — and earned All-Pac-12 First-Team honors as a senior in 2017 after recording 103 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He was the only defensive lineman in FBS that season with more than 100 tackles.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Phillips attended Millard West High School.
Mundt part of Rams migration to Minnesota
Mundt will bring great familiarity with Minnesota's new offensive scheme with him to Minnesota, having played for Head Coach Kevin O'Connell (as his offensive coordinator for two seasons) and Offensive Coordinator Wes Phillips (as his tight ends coach for three seasons).
Phillips anecdotally brought up Mundt during his introductory press conference when asked about potential personnel groupings.
The Rams led the NFL last season in usage of 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three receivers), going with that grouping 83.6 percent of the time.
"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," Phillips said. "We were more 12 personnel early in the year when we had a guy in Johnny Mundt, who was an effective blocker in 12 personnel to go with [tight end Tyler] Higbee. Later on, that wasn't the case."
View photos of new Vikings TE Johnny Mundt who joined the team during free agency.
Much like the Vikings shifted after Irv Smith, Jr., suffered his injury to more 11 personnel groupings than the 12 they showed a lot during training camp, the Rams adjusted to the players available.
After joining the Rams in 2017 as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon, Mundt developed into a solid contributor, appearing in 47 total games primarily as a blocking tight end. He has caught 10 passes for 93 yards on 10 targets in those contests, including four receptions for 53 yards in 2020.
This past season, Mundt was limited to six games because of a torn ACL that landed him on Injured Reserve.
He contributed on special teams as a rookie in L.A.'s run to Super Bowl LIII and has appeared in five total postseason contests, primarily in the third phase. Mundt also overlapped with Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels with the Rams from 2018-19 when Daniels assisted the group.
A native of Modesto, California, Mundt attended Central Catholic before heading to Oregon. He totaled 46 receptions for 683 yards and eight touchdowns for the Ducks.