Mike Zimmer loves Bengals safeties. After reports surfaced that the Vikings, among other teams, reached out to George Iloka's agent less than an hour after the start of the legal tampering period, Minnesota has now contacted Reggie Nelson's agent as well.
The #Vikings have reached out to a representative of Cincinnati safety Reggie Nelson. Seems they really like him. Mike Zimmer sure likes him— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) March 7, 2016
I'm told #Vikings at this point haven't reached out to FA safeties Eric Weddle of San Diego & Rashad Johnson of Ariz They like the 2 Bengals— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) March 7, 2016
How Zimmer would employ Harrison Smith with Nelson in the same defensive backfield is a question that the Vikings would need to answer before signing the Bengals safety, but Nelson and Smith seem versatile enough for Zimmer to make it work. After all, Zim is a defensive wizard whose specialty comes in the secondary.
Iloka would be the better free agent haul for the Vikings as he fits the scheme better and is the younger of the two players, but signing Nelson wouldn't be admitting defeat for Minnesota. Nelson tallied eight interceptions in 2015, tied for the most in the NFL.
Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo, the Vikings' pair of starting safeties, only totaled three picks on the entire season. Nelson also totaled 115 interception return yards, which was more than the entire Vikings secondary's combined return yards on the year.
With two days to go before free agency officially begins, this could just be Zimmer's way of throwing smokescreens or antagonizing his former team. After all, he missed out on signing Michael Johnson in free agency last year as the Bengals won out for his services.
But if talks between the Vikings and Nelson or Iloka get serious, the Bengals could be in for trouble.