39 Years Young: Vikings, Newman Agree to Terms
Father Time’s undefeated record has been well-documented since, well, the beginning of time itself.
Every year another household name in sports is claimed either via planned retirement or playing through a painful final year. No individual has ever been able to stand the test of time, and betting on this changing at any point is more-or-less equivalent to tossing a wad of bills into an active volcano.
If there is one player that possesses both the physical tools and competitive drive necessary to challenge Father Time’s winning streak, however, it is two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman.
Following yet another outstanding individual season in 2016, the seemingly ageless defensive back decided he will return to the gridiron for at least one more season with the Minnesota Vikings.
On Wednesday afternoon, the team officially announced it had agreed to terms with the 38-year-old Newman. The terms of the contract have not yet been released, but one could reasonably assume the soon-to-be 15-year NFL veteran will play under a team-friendly 1-year deal.
We have agreed to terms with CB @terencenewman.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) March 15, 2017
Newman, who will enter his third season with the Vikings this coming September, telegraphed his new contract during a Sirius XM Radio appearance on Tuesday afternoon. Despite plenty of speculation about the 2003 first-round pick following in the footsteps of teammate Chad Greenway, Newman will indeed extend his professional career to an age-39 season.
FA CB Terence Newman: I'm planning on playing next season. Hope to get something done in next few days. I do have a deal that is imminent.
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) March 14, 2017
Minnesota, which only recently lost nickel cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to the Carolina Panthers early during this free-agency period, would have found itself in need of cornerback help only a few months removed from it being arguably the team’s deepest position had Newman elected to call it a career. Instead, the veteran — for lack of a term that better describes his many years of NFL service — will rejoin a cornerback depth chart that still includes 2016 breakout star Xavier Rhodes, 2015 first-round pick Trae Waynes, 2016 second-round pick Mackensie Alexander, the oft-troubled Jabari Price and punt return specialist Marcus Sherels.
Newman’s return could have a slight ripple effect as it relates to free agency as well. Although his standout 2016 campaign came almost exclusively as an outside cornerback, the Kansas State product has shown an ability to perform well in the slot throughout his illustrious career. However, if Mike Zimmer deems a positional change necessary for the defensive back who he has consistently referred to as his all-time favorite player, history would argue safety as the more fluid transition.
Hall-of-Famer-to-be Charles Woodson, for example, moved from cornerback to safety during the twilight of his career in order to milk every ounce of ability he had left. This has been a common practice in the NFL for some time, but given that Newman turned in a Pro-Bowl caliber season only a few months ago, it may be in the Vikings’ best interest to play him opposite Rhodes on the outside, force Waynes to take the job from him — as opposed to handing the third-year Michigan State product the role on a silver platter — for one final season.
Well, just to be safe, let’s call it two more seasons. Tough to ever bet against an athlete of his pedigree, but given all evidence suggesting that Newman has in all likelihood discovered the heralded Fountain of Youth, a solid campaign in combination with a more competitive Vikings product could end up proving to be Newman’s second-to-last professional season.
CB Terence Newman to me via txt on how he'll feel playing at 39 this season: "Same as I did every other year I guess. It's my job." #Vikings
— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 15, 2017