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Former Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce reportedly agrees to three-year deal with Vikings

Free-agent defensive tackle Michael Pierce has reportedly agreed to a three-year, $27 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings, finalizing a long-expected departure after four productive seasons with the Ravens.

Pierce, 27, developed from an undrafted rookie out of Football Championship Subdivision school Samford into one of the NFL’s top run-stuffing interior linemen, but his play stagnated during an uneven final season in Baltimore.

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In a tweet Wednesday, Pierce thanked the Ravens for an “amazing 4 years in Baltimore.”

As a restricted free agent last year, the 6-foot, 340-pound Pierce received a second-round tender from the Ravens, who were set to bring back one of the NFL’s top run defenses. Pierce had graded out as the NFL’s fifth-best interior defender overall and the fourth best against the run, according to Pro Football Focus, finishing with 32 tackles last season in 14 games in 2018.

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But Pierce showed up to mandatory minicamp last offseason out of shape, and while he slimmed down in time for the preseason, the Ravens’ run defense struggled at times. In 14 starts, Pierce also had just half a sack — he has 3½ in his career — and three quarterback hits. He finished the season rated No. 48 overall among interior defenders by Pro Football Focus.

While veteran run stopper Brandon Williams will return for his eighth season in Baltimore, the middle of the team’s defensive line should have a different look in 2020. The Ravens traded Sunday for Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell, a capable interior pass rusher, and on Monday agreed to a three-year deal with Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers, who’s similarly versatile.

As he cleaned out his locker in January, Pierce spoke as if he knew his time in Baltimore might be over.

“This is the only family I’ve known,” Pierce said. “I would love for it to continue that way. But the NFL offseason is a beast in itself, so you’ve got to kind of take it as it goes. It’s out of my hands at this point.”

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