While it remains to be seen whether the Vikings have the financial room to bring back defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, they closed in on a familiar face to help bolster the position.

According to a league source, the team plans to bring back defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, who played with the Vikings from 2014-17 before spending last season in Seattle. ESPN reported Stephen would return on a three-year deal.

Stephen, who earned the nickname “The Big Fundamental” from defensive line coach Andre Patterson during his first stint in Minnesota, delivered impressive returns after the Vikings took him 220th overall in 2014. He started all 16 games in 2016, helping to make up for the loss of Sharrif Floyd to injury, and became a valuable rotational player at both the nose and three-technique tackle spots before sustaining a knee injury in the Vikings’ NFC divisional playoff win over the Saints in Jan. 2018. He played in 15 games for the Seahawks last season, starting 14, and posted a career-high two sacks.

If the Vikings have a realistic chance of bringing back Richardson, it could be incumbent upon their ability to clear additional cap space. Defensive end Everson Griffen was believed to be considering the team’s offer for a deal that would rework the final four years of his contract and provide the Vikings cap relief. If Griffen declines the restructured deal, the Vikings could cut him before his $10.9 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed on Friday.

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