EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings have added to their linebackers room for the 2021 season.
Minnesota agreed to terms with free agent Nick Vigil, the team announced Wednesday. Originally a third-round draft pick by Cincinnati in 2016, Vigil spent his first four seasons with the Bengals and in 2020 played for the Chargers.
Vigil appeared in 15 games last season, making two starts, and totaled 50 tackles (league stats), three tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, one pass defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
The 27-year-old's best season arguably was the 2019 campaign, when he started all 16 games for Cincinnati and was second on the team in tackles with 111. Vigil also nabbed one of his two career interceptions that season, picking off Browns QB Baker Mayfield.
Vigil will join a Vikings linebackers group that suffered multiple injuries in 2020.
View photos of new Vikings LB Nick Vigil who recently joined the team.
Here are five things to know about the Vikings new linebacker:
1. Guenther knows his game
Although Vigil and Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer didn't overlap in Cincinnati, Vigil is plenty familiar with Paul Guenther, whom the Vikings hired in February as senior defensive assistant.
Guenther took over as the Bengals defensive coordinator in 2014 when Zimmer left for Minnesota, and he oversaw Vigil's first two seasons in orange and black. Guenther's familiarity with Zimmer's system, as well as Vigil's skill set, will certainly be an advantage for the linebacker as he joins a new team.
Vigil played in the Chargers 3-4 base defense under former Head Coach Anthony Lynn, but prior to 2020 he played in the Bengals' 4-3 defense, which is similar to what he'll see in Minnesota.
2. Native of Utah
Vigil hails from Plain City, Utah, where he played on both sides of the ball for Fremont High School.
As a senior at Fremont, Vigil totaled 1,309 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 211 carries; in a playoff game, he racked up 256 rushing yards. He also recorded 61 tackles and two interceptions, recording one for a touchdown.
Other notable Fremont High alumni include former Ravens offensive lineman David Hale and American professional golfer Zac Blair.
3. Admirable Aggies career
Vigil was a standout at Utah State, where he played three seasons for the Aggies after redshirting in 2012.
He played in 14 games (four starts) as a redshirt freshman in 2013 and led the team with 5.5 sacks.
At the conclusion of his collegiate career, Vigil ranked third all-time in Aggies history with 38.5 tackles for loss and 13th all-time in school history with 324 career tackles. His 144 tackles as a junior ranked as the eighth-most in a single season at Utah State.
Vigil earned First-Team All-Mountain West honors in 2014 and 2015.
4. Football in the blood
Vigil isn't the only member of his family to reach the NFL.
His older brother, Zach, also played for Utah State and signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2015. Zach spent two seasons with Miami before signing with Washington for part of the 2016 season. He was with the Bills for the 2017 offseason but then re-joined Washington for the 2017-18 campaigns. Zach holds the school record with 43.5 career tackles for loss.
5. From bull riding to RB-chasing
The Vigil brothers were originally on a path to be professional cowboys, and not of the Dallas variety.
According to an ESPN story by Katherine Terrell, Nick and Zach "grew up on the rodeo circuit in Utah," where they "mutton busted" (rode sheep) before graduating to bulls. The brothers aspired to be professional bull riders, but a scary injury to Zach after being thrown from a bull ended that career journey.
"My dad said, 'You guys are done with rodeo and you're just going to play football instead.' That was the end of that,' " Zach Vigil told Terrell. "Nick always blames me for ruining his rodeo career."