EAGAN, Minn. -- When linebacker Anthony Barr spurned the New York Jets in March and re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings for less money, offensive lineman Dakota Dozier took notice.
Dozier was a free agent after playing five seasons with the Jets. He had been thinking of re-signing with them.
“At that point, I’m a free agent and still probably leaning to going back to New York,’’ Dozier said. “But I saw that and I was like, ‘Hey, that’s happened before so clearly something is wrong with this organization.’ But I wish them the best.’’
What happened before was quarterback Kirk Cousins turned down a three-year, $90 million Jets offer in March 2018 to sign a three-year, $84 million deal with the Vikings. Barr signed a five-year, $67.5 million contract with Minnesota after verbally agreeing to a five-year deal with the Jets worth in excess of $75 million.
Dozier said the Jets offered him the same contract as the Vikings. But he chose to sign a one-year, $805,000 million deal with Minnesota.
The Jets and Vikings have competed over other players. In January, the Jets wanted to sign wide receiver Jeff Badet, who spent last season on the Vikings practice squad and since has been waived, before he agreed to re-sign after Minnesota sweetened the offer with a $75,000 signing bonus.
The Vikings waived kicker Kaare Vedvik on Aug. 31 and wanted to sign him the next day to the practice squad before the Jets claimed him on waivers. But Vedvik was a bust in his first game, missing an extra point and a field goal, and he was waived Tuesday.
“It’s been funny to watch that,’’ Dozier said of the teams competing for players. “Actually, I was with the Jets when Kirk was a free agent and there was a possibility of him coming and no. Then Barr, same thing, no.
“Obviously, you want to go get a nice contract and all those things, but that says something special about this building and the people in it that even if it’s not exactly the same amount of money, I want to here. And so that’s really encouraging me because that tells me this is a place I want to be.’’
In his Vikings debut, Dozier played three snaps as a tackle eligible and four on special teams in a 28-12 win over Atlanta on Sunday. Now, he could play a much bigger role.
Left guard Pat Elflein missed practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, and it’s uncertain if he’ll play Sunday at Green Bay. Dozier practiced with the first team and said he will be ready to go if needed.
“If my number gets called, it’s time to go to work,’’ Dozier said. “The coaches feel confident in my ability, I feel confident in my assignments, so if they call me, I’m up.’’
Dozier takes pride in his versatility. The only one of the five offensive line spots he hasn’t played in a regular-season game is right tackle.
In his first NFL game, he was inserted at center in 2014 in place of Nick Mangold. And for last Sunday’s game, the left-handed Dozier was the emergency center.
The Vikings had released backup center Brett Jones on Sept. 3 with the intent of soon re-signing him, which they did Tuesday. With Jones not with the team, the plan was for Elflein, last year’s starting center, to slide back to center if starter Garrett Bradbury got hurt.
If another center was needed, it would have been Dozier, who snapped in practice during the week.
“I felt comfortable with it, the coaches felt comfortable with it, the quarterbacks didn’t have a problem with it, so I was ready to roll,’’ Dozier said.
Dozier showed even more versatility last season when he was used for 21 snaps at fullback, although he didn’t get a carry. The Jets offensive line coach was Rick Dennison, now Minnesota’s offensive line coach/run game coordinator.
“I they ask me to play fullback, I’ll play fullback,’’ Dozier said. “The more versatile you can be, it helps your team.’’
The Vikings, though, might not need Dozier to display versatility against the Packers. If Elflein can’t play, he would be in line to simply be the left guard.