Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Johnson confirms he's returning to Vikings on two-year deal

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: March 15, 2014 - 6:05 PM

Vikings left guard Charlie Johnson has confirmed that he has agreed to re-sign for a two-year deal that should keep the team's starting offensive line intact for a third straight season.

"We have an agreement in place for me to come back," said Johnson, who will get $5 million over two seasons. "And that is ultimately what I wanted to happen coming into this process."

The Vikings went into free agency interested in re-signing Charlie Johnson, but were willing to let him go while they addressed their many other needs, particularly on defense. Johnson wanted to return but told the Star Tribune earlier in the week that he had "about five teams" that were interested in him and that he was prepared to leave.

Although Johnson struggled last season, he still gives the Vikings continuity rarely seen in today's NFL. He has started 48 of 49 games including one playoff contest since joining the Vikings as a free agent in 2011. Johnson played the 2011 season as Bryant McKinnie's replacement at left tackle. He slid inside to left guard when the team selected Matt Kalil fourth overall in 2012 and has started 32 of 33 games in two seasons at left guard.

His return also would mean that the Vikings are likely to have the same starting five offensive linemen for the third straight season. They'll also be joined by the same offensive line coach, Jeff Davidson, who has been with the team for the past three seasons.

The team's willingness to let Johnson walk in free agency means he's not exactly a lock to start. But his contract probably means he'll start this season while second-year pro Jeff Baca, a sixth-round pick last year, and possible a rookie draft pick are groomed to take his place as early as 2015.

General Manager Rick Spielman had said Friday that the team wanted Johnson back but would also make offensive line an area of focus in the draft.

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