Vikings Sign Massive Former First-Round DT Jerry Tillery

Jerry Tillery
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s focus on improving the Minnesota Vikings’ defense continues with the signing of defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the contract is for one year and is worth up to $3.75 million.

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound defensive lineman entered the league as the 28th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with the Los Angeles Chargers. After appearing in 54 games but starting just 29 across three seasons in L.A., the Chargers let him go.

“Jerry Tillery is the perfect example of a guy with tremendous upside and talent who has just never been able to live up to expectations. He has never been able to seize a full-time three-down role, and even as a complementary piece, he demonstrates flashes of brilliance but is a disappearing act in others. What he has probably become most known for as of late is committing bone-head penalties at critical moments in games. This was one of the major reasons that the Los Angeles Chargers waived him mid-season in 2022.”

Ryan Dyrud – Founder of

Once he hit the waiver wire, the Las Vegas Raiders were eager to scoop up the former first-round pick out of Notre Dame, and he quickly proved to be valuable as a run defender, recording 13 ‘stops’ in 504 snaps.

Prior to joining the Raiders, Pro Football Focus had never graded Tillery higher than 50. Then he had a mini breakout in 2023, when he was given a 67.7 grade and ranked 40th out of 130 players, higher than all other interior Vikings defenders on the roster.

Jerry Tillery67.7
Harrison Phillips59.7
Jonathan Bullard46.3
Pro Football Focus grades for interior Vikings defenders on the roster (2023)

Tillery, 27, is coming off his best season yet as a pro, so the Vikings could either be buying in at the perfect time or getting fool’s gold. Yet, for a cost of just under $4 million, likely with only a small portion of that amount guaranteed, it’s worth a gamble. Especially for a defensive front that has few proven commodities.

  • Jerry Tillery’s stats (2023): 31 tackles (2 TFL), 2 Sacks, 6 QB Hits, 1 FR

Don’t expect Tillery’s minuscule one-year contract to impact the Vikings’ plans in the NFL Draft, where addressing the defensive interior remains a big need. Yet, each addition the team makes allows for more flexibility, including offering a king’s ransom to move up the draft board for a QB prospect the front office really likes.

Related: NFL Looking into Alleged Tampering by Falcons During Pursuit of Kirk Cousins

Mentioned in this article:

More About: