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Vikings keep Bullard for a defensive line in flux

The Vikings brought back one member of the defensive line on Wednesday.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard, whose 644 defensive snaps trailed only Harrison Phillips among Vikings interior defenders last season, is returning on a one-year deal, the team announced.

The 30-year-old Bullard returns to a Vikings' D-line in flux.

Defensive tackle Dean Lowry was released this week in a move that saved over $2 million in salary cap space. Edge rushers Danielle Hunter (Texans) and Marcus Davenport (Lions) agreed to deals elsewhere. Edge rusher D.J. Wonnum remains a free agent after the Vikings agreed to sign free-agent edge rushers Jonathan Greenard from the Texans and Andrew Van Ginkel from the Dolphins.

The Vikings likely aren't done adding to the interior D-line, which currently consists of Phillips, Bullard and Jaquelin Roy. Defensive tackles Khyiris Tonga, James Lynch and Sheldon Day are free agents.

Running back Cam Akers and Tonga, who were both restricted free agents, did not receive one-year tenders from the team by Wednesday afternoon, making them both unrestricted free agents who can sign elsewhere. The lowest-level tender would've cost the Vikings nearly $3 million for next season. Akers, who turns 25 this summer, is recovering from a second torn Achilles tendon of his career.

Cashman gets over $9 million guaranteed

Linebacker Blake Cashman, the former Eden Prairie and Gophers star, returned to Minnesota this week on a three-year deal worth up to $25.5 million with the Vikings.

Less than $10 million is guaranteed at signing, according to NFLPA salary data. After a breakout season with the Texans, in which Cashman was one of the NFL's best coverage linebackers, he got a $7,750,000 signing bonus plus about $1.7 million in guaranteed salary and bonuses this season. He'll count $4.2 million against this year's salary cap.

If Cashman is on the roster on March 15, 2025, he'll have another roughly $5 million become guaranteed.

Hicks: Two Vikings years 'an absolute blessing'

Cashman replaces linebacker Jordan Hicks, the former Vikings team captain who agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal with the Browns this week.

Hicks wrote a heartfelt goodbye message to Vikings fans on Wednesday. He made 31 starts for the Vikings in two seasons, including one playoff game. Hicks had over 100 tackles in each season, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries — one returned for a touchdown in an October win at Chicago.

"The last two years in Minnesota have been an absolute blessing for not only myself, but for our entire family," Hicks, 31, wrote on social media. "I'm grateful for my teammates, coaches, staff, and all the friends we met along the way. Thank you for everything, Minnesota."

Brandel gets three-year deal

Offensive lineman Blake Brandel, who has started five games over the last two seasons at both guard and tackle, received a three-year deal worth up to $9.5 million, according to NFLPA salary data.

That's a nice pay bump and show of confidence in Brandel, a 2020 sixth-round pick who has developed into a trusted reserve.

Brandel, 27, got a $2 million signing bonus within nearly $5 million fully guaranteed. He'll more than double his career earnings in his fifth NFL season. He was scheduled to be a restricted free agent.

Two returning Vikings got one-year, $2 million contracts: tight end Johnny Mundt received a $750,000 signing bonus, his only guaranteed money; receiver and punt returner Brandon Powell got $625,000 guaranteed between a $375,000 signing bonus and $250,000 guaranteed salary.