EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings have added to their tight ends group.
Minnesota has agreed to terms with free agent tight end Josh Oliver, the team announced Wednesday.
Oliver most recently played for the Ravens in 2021 and 2022. He started his pro career as a third-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft by Jacksonville. Oliver landed on Injured Reserve in November 2019 and again in August 2020; he was traded to Baltimore in March 2021.
Oliver primarily worked as a blocking tight end for the Ravens, having just 14 catches last season, but he did total 149 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
He received a 71.5 overall grade from analytics site Pro Football Focus. PFF ranked Oliver as the NFL's eighth-best tight end, just two spots behind Minnesota's T.J. Hockenson, in 2022. William Moy wrote:
Of every player on this list, Oliver ran the fewest routes this past season by far. The Ravens tight end finished with just 176 routes — well behind Austin Hooper, who ran the second-fewest routes among these 15 players, with 338. Oliver was targeted just 25 times, recording 16 catches for two touchdowns and seven first downs. However, his contributions as a receiver aren't what boost him to No. 8.
Oliver was PFF's highest-graded run-blocking tight end in 2022. His 74.0 run-blocking mark made him one of just two tight ends to surpass 70.0, and just 11 NFL tight ends exceeded a 60.0 run-blocking grade on at least 300 run-blocking snaps. Oliver's 15.3-[percent] positive run-block rate paced the rest of the position by a landslide, with George Kittle's 10.9-[percent] ranking second.
View photos of Vikings TE Josh Oliver who the team agreed to terms on March 15.
Here are five additional things to know about the Vikings new tight end:
1. Former Spartan … of the San Jose State variety
Oliver doesn't share an alma mater with his new quarterback, Kirk Cousins, but they were both Spartans.
Oliver shined at San Jose State, where he started 36 of 49 games played and was just the fourth tight end in Spartans history with 1,000 or more career receiving yards.
As a senior in 2018, Oliver recorded single-season highs of 56 catches, 709 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
2. California native
Oliver was born in Templeton, California, and later attended Paso Robles High School, where he played tight end, defensive end and outside linebacker for the varsity football team. He also played for the school's basketball team.
Other notable alumni of Paso Robles include former Houston Astros pitcher Chris Gardner, former MLB outfielder and coach Rusty Kuntz (White Sox, 1979-83; Twins, 1983; Tigers, 1984-85) and former NFL linebacker Don Parish.
3. Athletics are in his blood
Oliver isn't the only one in his family who's excelled athletically.
One of his uncles, Clancy Oliver, was a defensive back for the Steelers in 1969 and 1970 and for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973. A cousin, Darren Oliver, is a former MLB pitcher who won 118 games over 20 seasons. Darren's father Bob also played in the major leagues for eight seasons.
The Athletic noted Oliver's cousin Earl McCullouch ran on the same USC 440-yard track relay team as O.J. Simpson and played seven seasons in the NFL as a receiver, six of them with the Lions. And another cousin, Keary Colbert, was drafted by the Panthers in 2004.
4. Close-knit family
Oliver has two brothers, Jonno and Ben, and the three are part of a close-knit family.
In an interview with the Paso Robles Press as a rookie with Jacksonville, Oliver said his dad Rene has always been his biggest motivator.
"And the support of my family — I would not be where I am today without all of them," Oliver added. "I've been blessed, and I appreciate my upbringing; not too many people have parents like I do who traveled to all my games, paid for my sporting events, and have just always been there for me."
5. Dog dad
In August 2019, Oliver made a "new addition to the fam" with Snoop the Bernedoodle puppy.