Vikings introduce free agent signings Byron Murphy Jr., Josh Oliver
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Vikings started free agency this week by adding tight end Josh Oliver and defensive back Byron Murphy Jr.
Thursday, Murphy and Oliver spoke with reporters about their journey to Minnesota at TCO Performance Center for the first time since joining the Vikings. Murphy comes to the Vikings after spending four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. The Vikings needed help in the secondary after the departures of Patrick Peterson and Cam Dantzler.
Murphy was considered one of the top free agent defensive backs on the market.
"I had opportunities to talk to other teams, but I felt like this was a perfect fit for me. My coaches with Arizona had talked to me about the coaches and staff here, kind of gave me advice on the stuff they do here. I related to that and I felt like that was the most important thing for me being here," Murphy said.
In 56 games and 48 starts over four seasons with the Cardinals, Murphy had 229 tackles, three sacks, nine tackles for loss and five interceptions. He played on the outside, and in the slot. He can be a versatile player for new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
"I’ve only heard good things about him. I heard he likes to play man, that’s something I like to do as a corner. Can’t wait to get coached by him," Murphy said.
Murphy reached out to both Peterson and Jordan Hicks, and says he got to know Peterson before he got drafted as the two bonded over cars. He’ll be teammates with Hicks again, and the two already talked about the new Vikings’ culture instilled by Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.
Murphy got his first look at TCO Performance Center on Thursday. He even joked about getting free meals in the cafeteria after Cardinals' players said in an NFLPA survey they had to pay for their meals at the team facility.
"I can tell since I’ve gotten here. Everything here is nice, I’m not going to lie. Everything," Murphy said. "For me to come here and see how much time and effort they put into this building, into the players and coaches and people upstairs, just a blessing to be a part of something like that."
Murphy talked about having to grow up in a hurry, learning at 17 years old as he was off to college that he was going to be a father. He's now 25 years old.
"At the end of the day, I think it’s the biggest blessing of my life. Every day I wake up, I know I have a why. That’s my why," Murphy said.
JOSH OLIVER ADDS BLOCKING TO VIKINGS OFFENSE
The Vikings traded for T.J. Hockenson last season, and got back Irv Smith Jr. late in the season. They wanted more help blocking both in the run game and in pass protection.
Enter Oliver, who spent his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being traded to the Baltimore Ravens. This was his first stint in free agency, and he found a new home in the Vikings. He said Thursday he had interest from about half the teams in the NFL before narrowing it down to four teams, and choosing Minnesota.
"I picked up a lot of interest, and it was just the right opportunity, the right fit and I felt like it was the right team," Oliver said.
In 35 career games, Oliver has 26 catches for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He takes more pride in his blocking, a skill he had to learn. He considered Ravens’ teammates Nick Boyle and Mark Andrews his mentors.
"When I was coming out in the draft, the biggest thing is I wasn’t able to block. Now I’m a blocking tight end, things change," Oliver said.
Now he joins an offense that includes Hockenson, Justin Jefferson and Kirk Cousins, all key pieces of an offense that helped lead Kevin O’Connell to a division title in his first season as a head coach.
"I’ve seen this offense from afar. I’ve seen them from last season, they won 13 games and stuff. It’s exciting to be part of guys like T.J., JJ, we’ve got all these weapons and stuff. Just to complement those guys is exciting."