EAGAN, Minn. - The Vikings on Wednesday opened the New League Year by announcing the team has agreed to terms with Josh Oliver, Marcus Davenport and Byron Murphy, Jr.
The trio of players was added in the first wave of 2023 free agency after Minnesota navigated through a salary cap overage and reached agreements with several players who were with the team last season. A precise, multi-step approach led to agreements to return center Garrett Bradbury, long snapper Andrew DePaola, kicker Greg Joseph, quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Ben Ellefson, outside linebacker Kenny Willekes, offensive lineman Blake Brandel and defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga.
Here is a bit more information on Oliver, Davenport and Murphy.
Josh Oliver, TE
Age: Turns 26 on March 21
Drafted: By Jacksonville in third round of 2019
Previous teams: Jaguars (four games in 2019; IR in 2020) and Ravens (14 games in 2021 and 17 in 2022)
Career stats: 26 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 46 targets; has played 786 offensive snaps and 216 on special teams
Interesting boost: Oliver's yards per reception went from 5.0 in 2019 to 7.3 in 2021 to 10.6 in 2022. Oliver caught 14 passes for 149 yards and touchdowns of 1 yard and 12 yards for Baltimore last season.
Block party: Pro Football Focus ranked Oliver as the NFL's eighth-best tight end - two spots behind T.J. Hockenson - in 2022, noting his 74.0 run-blocking mark made him one of just two tight ends to surpass 70.0. PFF issued a "positive run-block rate" of 15.3 percent to lead the NFL (next closest: San Francisco's George Kittle at 10.9 percent).
At the position group: Oliver joins a tight ends room that includes Hockenson, Johnny Mundt, Nick Muse and Ben Ellefson. The Vikings will have options to run more 12 personnel (one running back and two tight ends) after utilizing 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end and three receivers) heavily last season. Hockenson is expected to be a primary target in the passing game after recording 60 receptions in the 10 games that followed his in-season trade to Minnesota. After totaling 10 catches for 93 yards in 47 games with the Rams, Mundt turned in career bests of 19 receptions for 140 yards and his first career touchdown on 21 targets last season.
Also of note: Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell spoke at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine about wanting to reduce the number of negative runs by Minnesota in 2023. Oliver's prowess as a run blocker could help Minnesota with that goal.
Sports Illustrated's Will Ragatz weighed in on the potential impact of the signing:
Marcus Davenport, OLB
Age: Turns 27 on Sept. 4
Drafted: By New Orleans in first round of 2018
Previous team: Saints (13 games in 2018 and 2019; 11 games in 2020 and 2021; 15 games in 2022)
Career stats: 142 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 21.5 sacks, 60 QB hits, four passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and one fumble recovery; has played 2,249 defensive snaps and 347 on special teams
Packing pressure: Davenport's 34 quarterback pressures in 2022 tied for the most on the team in 2022, and his career QB pressure rate of 15.1 percent per Next Gen Stats ranks fourth among 131 players with 1,000-plus pass-rush snaps.
Helping hands: The Saints ranked in the top half of the NFL in points allowed in each of the five seasons Davenport was with the team and in the top 10 in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
At the position group: Davenport joins a Vikings "Edge Department" led in 2022 by Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith.
Byron Murphy, Jr., CB
Age: Turned 25 on Jan. 18
Drafted: By Arizona in second round of 2019
Previous teams: Cardinals (16 games in 2019; 15 in 2020; 16 games in 2021; 9 games in 2022)
Career stats: 229 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five interceptions (one returned 29 yards for a touchdown), 34 passes defensed, one forced fumble, five fumble recoveries (one returned 59 yards for a touchdown) and 3.0 sacks
Big year: Murphy set career bests of four interceptions and 12 passes defensed in 2021.
Versatility and physicality: Murphy has experience at outside corner, in the slot and has even lined up in the box. He's been physical, no matter where he lines up to start the play.
At the position group: Murphy joins a young cornerbacks group that includes 2022 second-round pick Andrew Booth, Jr., as well as fourth-rounder Akayleb Evans, who will all grow in new Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores' system.
ESPN analyst Matt Bowen weighed in on the Murphy signing: