The NFL’s league year started with a bang yet again Tuesday afternoon with a stunning trio of trades involving star players — none of whom were a certain Vikings running back — and the finalization of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of deals.
No, the Vikings still haven’t made that major splash that a sector of the fan base is clamoring for. But hey, at least they finally agreed to sign someone from another team, though the Vikings’ first free-agent addition of 2015 isn’t exactly new here.
Shortly after the start of free agency at 3 p.m., the Vikings agreed to terms with 35-year-old quarterback Shaun Hill, according to a league source. Hill will return to Minnesota, where he began his career in 2002 as an undrafted free agent, to be the team’s new veteran backup for second-year starter Teddy Bridgewater.
The Vikings were in need of one after sending Matt Cassel to the Buffalo Bills, a trade that became official Tuesday. They zeroed in on Hill on Saturday, when teams were first allowed to speak with soon-to-be free agents from other teams, and hammered down a two-year deal worth $6.5 million, including $3.2 million guaranteed.
Hill is comfortable with the No. 2 role, and his familiarity with offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who coached him in San Francisco in 2006, appealed to him.
Hill spent last season with the St. Louis Rams. He was supposed to be the backup to starting quarterback Sam Bradford, but Hill ended up starting eight games after Bradford suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason. Hill threw eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions while going 3-5 as a starter.
One of those starts was the season opener against the Vikings. Hill completed eight of his 13 attempts for 81 yards and one interception before being benched at halftime in favor of Austin Davis. The Vikings won the game 34-6.
In 13 NFL seasons — mostly spent as a backup — with four different teams, Hill has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 8,038 yards, 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He has an 85.5 career passer rating and a 16-18 starting record.
His regular-season action with the Vikings was limited to two kneel-downs in 2005.
The Vikings also agreed Tuesday to re-sign veteran guard Joe Berger to a two-year, $2.155 million deal, according to another league source. Berger has spent the past four seasons with the Vikings, appearing in 61 games for the Vikings and starting in 18 of them.
It is unclear if the Vikings see Berger, who turns 33 in May, as a starter in 2015 or if they want him to resume his role as a valuable reserve. He ended up starting nine games in that role in 2014.
Either way, Berger was a priority for the Vikings because he is capable of playing all three interior offensive line spots in a pinch.
The Vikings released starting left guard Charlie Johnson last month, leaving a void at the position. They have been linked to former Bengals guard Clint Boling, but reports are that he will re-sign there.
The Vikings have now agreed to bring back five of their 2015 free agents in Berger, defensive tackle Tom Johnson, running back Matt Asiata, offensive tackle Mike Harris and long snapper Cullen Loeffler. Asiata and Harris — who was tendered Tuesday, giving the Vikings the right of first refusal — were restricted free agents.
While the Vikings, unlike many of their peers, have been patient when it comes to the start of free agency, they are trying to be proactive when it comes to running back Adrian Peterson now that they are allowed to communicate with him again.
Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf and General Manager Rick Spielman met with Peterson in New York on Monday, a team source confirmed.
The source said the meeting was a continuation in the dialogue between Peterson and the organization.
Last week, Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer met with Peterson at his Houston home. That meeting, which both sides felt was productive, lasted about four hours.
Peterson’s future with the Vikings has been uncertain since he was charged with child abuse in September and banished by the NFL for the rest of the 2014 season.
Peterson said last month that he felt “uneasy” about a possible return to the Vikings, citing a perceived lack of support from the organization. But Peterson has not publicly requested to be traded or released. The Vikings, meanwhile, have been maintaining publicly that they would like him back in 2015.
While Tuesday brought bold moves such as the Seahawks trading for tight end Jimmy Graham, the Lions dealing for defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and the Rams and Eagles swapping starting quarterbacks, the Vikings are hoping that their big impact move will be convincing Peterson to suit up for them again.