EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Dalton Risner spent six months as a free agent, until he finally signed this week with Minnesota.
The former Denver guard, as he happily began the integration process with the Vikings on Wednesday, acknowledged some regret he let the process play out that long.
“I think that I was holding my worth earlier in the process, and maybe I should’ve called teams earlier and said, ‘Hey, I’ll take less than what you guys actually think,’” Risner said, rattling off a list of potential contributing factors including his asking price, his performance last season, the market for his position and his well-publicized shove of a teammate during an argument on a dysfunctional Broncos sideline.
Risner, who signed a one-year contract worth up to $4 million with $2.25 million guaranteed, visited the Vikings during training camp. What if he'd taken their offer then?
“I could be in the playbook right now and know my teammates and stuff like that,” Risner said. "I think some things in life you don’t have the answer to, so I’ve just got to put my head down and go to work and hopefully change that for next season.”
Now the 2019 second-round draft pick has found himself in catch-up mode, trying to navigate the team's sparkling and sprawling headquarters and learn the terminology in coach Kevin O'Connell's complex offense. Vikings offensive line coach Chris Kuper was the assistant offensive line coach with the Broncos for Risner's first three years there, an aspect of familiarity that influenced his decision.
“We will obviously have to make decisions to get the best five guys on the field, and what that looks like I can’t tell you right now or timelines for that,” O'Connell said. “I do know Dalton is very intelligent. I do know he’s chomping at the bit to get going.”
Risner said he had interest from 16 clubs, exactly half of the league, including a scheduled visit Tuesday to a team he declined to identify. That was canceled when the picked he Vikings.
“I just wanted to play football, but I wasn’t willing to do it for what some of these teams did,” Risner said.
Now he can put the contract matters in the past and focus on helping an offensive line that's in a bit of a scramble itself.
Center Garrett Bradbury missed the last game because of a back injury and did not practice Wednesday. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw didn't play in the loss to Philadelphia, either, because of an ankle injury. Second-year right guard Ed Ingram and backup center Austin Schlottman have had some obvious struggles for the Vikings (0-2), who lead the NFL in turnovers and are last in the league in rushing yards. Backup tackle Oli Udoh is out for the season with a torn quadriceps tendon.
“I don’t want to be the guy who comes in here and expects anything. No one’s entitled to anything in this world, and I learned that this last free agency period,” said Risner, who was working out in his cleats in a neighborhood park when his agent called to tell him about the pending deal with the Vikings.
Risner had only one holding penalty, three false starts and four missed games over his four seasons with the Broncos.
“You're going to have to severely tear or break something on my body to keep me off the field,” he said. “I did a lot of things in Denver I’m really proud of.”
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