EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — New members of the Vikings family that have joined since the season ended are scheduled to meet teammates Monday for the opening of the team's voluntary offseason workout program.
As the nine-week workouts progress, Vikings.com and the Vikings Entertainment Network will provide coverage and updates, but here's a look at new faces making their Winter Park debut:
TRADEWINDS LAND WALLACE
Mike Wallace joined the Vikings via a trade with the Dolphins for draft pick compensation on March 13, bringing speed he's showcased for six previous seasons with Pittsburgh and Miami as well as demonstrated success on screens. Wallace has 88 career catches of 20 or more yards and 34 that have gained 40 or more yards in his career (click here* *to see how that compares with Randy Moss' first six seasons).
A second round pick in 2009 by the Steelers, Wallace led the NFL with a per-catch average of 19.4 yards as a rookie, and he said he wants to be known for the hard work* *that can make those big plays happen. Wallace also showed he can be a threat with less than 20 yards to go, catching nine of his 10 touchdowns in the red zone in 2014.
Believe it or not, no Vikings quarterback on the roster was with the Vikings this time a year ago. Minnesota drafted Teddy Bridgewater 32nd overall in 2014, and Bridgewater's number was called to start in Week 4 after Matt Cassel suffered a season-ending injury the previous week. Bridgewater set a total of 91 team records for a rookie, including starts (12), wins (6), completion percentage (64.4) and passer rating (85.2), en route to the Pepsi Rookie of the Year award. The performance led the Vikings to believe they've found a QB for years to come.
As Bridgewater transitioned from showing the value of a backup to the starter's role, the Vikings made additional changes at the position. They traded Cassel and a sixth-round pick to Buffalo to obtain the Bills' pick that starts the fifth round (137th overall) on the day free agency began and signed veteran Shaun Hill a day later. Hill began his pro career as a Viking in 2002. The Vikings also added Mike Kafka in free agency earlier this month and have said they might take a look at a rookie to draft (or sign if undrafted) and develop.
View images of new Vikings S Taylor Mays from his days as a 49er and Bengal.
REUNIONS WITH ZIM'
A potential pitfall of free agency is the element of the unknown. Plenty of players across the league have been projected to make impactful splashes that have amounted to ripples because they didn't quite fit in a scheme or city. Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, however, was able to rely on his past direct experiences with cornerback Terence Newman (in Dallas and Cincinnati) and Taylor Mays (in Cincinnati). Newman, a two-time Pro Bowler, has 786 career tackles (622 solo), 37 interceptions and 169 pass breakups. Mays is the son of former Vikings defensive tackle Stafford Mays (1987-88) and has been a standout on special teams and contributed as a reserve with the Bengals.
To a lesser degree, Zimmer also had familiarity with linebacker Casey Matthews from coaching him at the 2011 Senior Bowl. Matthews signed with Minnesota after four seasons in Philadelphia, where he appeared in all 64 games and was credited with 109 tackles and 2.5 sacks in playing inside and outside linebacker.
The Vikings also added to their roster by bringing players across the state and international borders.
The Vikings also added Jalil Carter in January, signing*the former Toronto Argonaut out of the Canadian Football League to a future contract, and signed former Saskatchewan Roughriders linebacker Brian Peters in February. Peters also played* for the Iowa Barnstormers of the AFL.
Caesar Rayford, a 6-foot-7, 267-pound defensive end who joined Minnesota earlier this month after participating in the first NFL Veteran Combine, has crossed multiple borders in his career. Rayford has logged time in the NFL, CFL and AFL.
BIG MAN "BABS"
Rayford is a player of considerable size, but the Vikings found an even larger one for the offensive line in signing 6-9, 351-pound tackle Babatunde Aiyegbusi, reaching across the Atlantic to sign the Poland native*after he was able to participate in a pro day at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Aiyegbusi, who goes by "Babs," is the fifth Polish-born player to sign an NFL contract. Click here* to read more about his journey thus far to the NFL.
DEPTH ON DEFENSE
The calendar had barely turned to 2015 when the Vikings added depth on defense in signing three players to futures contracts in January. Minnesota added defensive linemen Chigbo Anunoby, who has spent time with Indianapolis, Washington and Tennessee, and Leon Mackey out of the Arena League. The Vikings also added cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, who has spent time with Oakland, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Click here for more on Anunoby, Mackey and Van Dyke.
IN A SNAP
The most recent acquisition by the Vikings was long snapper Kevin McDermott, whose signing was announced April 6. McDermott teamed with punter Jeff Locke at UCLA and spent the final 10 weeks of 2014 with Baltimore.