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Vikings make move to keep offensive lineman Easton

Minnesota Vikings center Nick Easton. Timothy T. Ludwig / USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn. -- The Vikings last year worked out a long-term deal with restricted free agent Adam Thielen. This year, one could be reached with Nick Easton.

A source said Monday the Vikings have placed a second-round tender on the restricted free-agent guard worth $2.914 million for next season. The source said that Easton “loves it” in Minnesota and there is hope of working out a long-term contract.

The tender means that the Vikings can match any offer for Easton, who started all 12 games he played last season. If they lose him, his new team would be forced to give up a second-round draft pick.

Easton started 11 games last season at left guard and one at center, when he filled in Dec. 10 at Carolina for an injured Pat Elflein. Easton suffered a fractured right ankle Dec. 23 at Green Bay and missed the final regular-season game and two playoff games.

Easton said in January his recovery was going well and he expected to be ready for spring drills.

The Vikings last year put a second-round tender on Thielen, a wide receiver. They then worked out a contract with Thielen that runs through 2020.

Minnesota’s two other restricted free agents, offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles and running back Bishop Sankey, are not expected to receive tenders, which would make them unrestricted.

Easton was undrafted in 2015 out of Harvard and spent the first part of that season with San Francisco before being acquired by Minnesota in October 2015. After not getting into a regular-season game in 2015, he started five of the 11 games he played in 2016 at center before becoming a regular starter last season at left guard.

With Easton likely coming back, the Vikings figure to return at least four of five starters on the offensive line. Left guard Riley Reiff, Elflein and Mike Remmers, who played right tackle most of the last year and could be at that spot or at guard next season, are all under contract.

Joe Berger, the starting right guard last season, is an unrestricted free agent. A source said the Vikings have interest in bringing Berger back. The source said at least three other teams, which weren’t named, also have interest.

HARRIS, BROWN SIGN

Vikings exclusive-rights free agents Anthony Harris and Mack Brown both signed their tenders Monday for next season.

Harris, a safety, signed for $705,000, and Brown, a running back, for $630,000. The Pioneer Press had reported last week that both moves would be made.

The Vikings had a third exclusive-rights free agent in long snapper Jeff Overbaugh, but he was not given a tender, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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