The Minnesota Vikings have a more urgent need elsewhere, but the signing of George Iloka gives them one of the best safety duos in the NFL.
With Kirk Cousins now in place at quarterback, a rash of preseason injuries along the offensive line should be a great concern for the Minnesota Vikings. But a piece may be added to one of the league’s best defenses instead. According to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, safety George Iloka is on his way to Minnesota and is expected to sign with the Vikings.
Iloka started 76 games for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2013-2017. But he was released last weekend, as the Bengals cleared $5.6 million in cap space and have rookie Jessie Bates ready to replace him a free safety. The Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders have been rumored to have interest in Ikoka since he was cut, before the Vikings came out of nowhere.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator in Iloka’s first two seasons there, including his first year as a starter in 2013. Iloka started at free safety in 2016 and 2017, but he was the Bengals’ starting strong safety from 2013-2015.
Strong safety is where Iloka will fit in Minnesota, since free safety Harrison Smith is one of the best safeties in the league. But Andrew Sendejo has been the starting strong safety for Minnesota essentially by default, with double-digit starts in four of the last five seasons, as other options have not quite been able to supplant him.
Sendejo’s roster spot is not necessarily in danger now. But the Vikings could cut him without financial consequence, or maybe he will be traded from some offensive line help.
The Vikings were No. 1 in the NFL in total (275.9 yards per game) and scoring defense (15.8 points per game) last year. But a weak spot has now been shored up, assuming the deal will be sealed with Iloka.