Free agent George Iloka, the safety who was cut by the Bengals this week, is on his way to Minnesota and expected to sign with the Vikings, according to NFL Network.
The Vikings’ defense is about to add a veteran who should make an immediate impact.
“Whoa,” says NFL’s Tom Pelissero in his tweet. “One of the NFL’s best defenses about to get even better?”
The announcement comes as huge news for the Vikings if he signs as Iloka is 28 years old and has been a rock-solid starter in the Bengals’ secondary for the past five seasons.
He was released on Sunday in what NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says was “strictly a financial move”.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was the Bengals’ defensive coordinator for Iloka’s first two seasons in Cincinnati, so there’s a comfort level between them and a belief that Iloka can get up to speed in Minnesota quickly.
Iloka is listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, and he knows how Mike Zimmer runs a defense since he played under Zimmer in Cincinnati his first three seasons in the NFL (2012-2014).
“Remember, after drafting cornerback Mike Hughes earlier this year, Zimmer went on record saying he was hoping to get experimental with the defense this season by using more defense backs. Illoka might be the perfect fit for whatever Zimmer has brewing,” Minnesota Sports explains.
Iloka started all 16 games last season for the Bengals and should be able to start in Minnesota as well. In Minnesota, Iloka would likely be the starting strong safety, and pairing him with starting free safety Harrison Smith would give the Vikings one of the best safety combos in the league.