Former Cincinnati Bengals CB Terence Newman visited the Vikings without word getting out beforehand, according to Ian Rapaport.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2015
It goes without saying that Newman played for Mike Zimmer while in Cincinnati and at the time was an athletic phenom, running a 4.37 40-yard dash and a 41-inch vertical, to go with a 11’4″ broad jump. He was our #36 free agency target; this is the summary:
Newman has had a shockingly good year for the Bengals, though that’s not to say it has been stellar. At 36, Newman only has one or two seasons left, and it may not even be as a starter. Nevertheless, the Vikings should consider bringing Newman in for the same reason they brought in Chris Crocker: to have a knowledgeable defensive back in team meetings and on the practice field to accelerate the development of the other defensive backs.
Newman is still a smooth corner who can play with the kind of savvy that allows him to stay in-step with some of the best receivers in the NFL, and didn’t find himself toasted as often as you’d expect of a cornerback his age against some of the elite athletic talents in the NFL.
Still, Newman is set to drop off a cliff sooner rather than later, so it’s not as if the Vikings would be buying the two-time Pro Bowler at his peak. Still, Newman can play and he may still be able to play at a high level. If confusion was a primary issue for the Vikings secondary last year (it was), then they can get rid of a lot of it by signing someone who revived his career in the system and knows the calls.
His value doesn’t come as much in preventing receptions so much as refusing to give up the big play—he only allowed one play above 40 yards last year (to Demaryius Thomas for 46) and two over 30 (to Emmanuel Sanders for 33 and Antonio Brown for 32). Same story in 2013—one play above 40 and three over 40.
He closes well in zone coverage, reads receivers well and still performs well against the run. He’s clearly lost a step and keeps investing in technique in order to hide it, but will still get exposed, possibly in a big way many times this season. Though never the biggest turnover machine, Newman does a good job getting his hands on the ball and can at least force quarterbacks to reconsider targeting him.
Should the Vikings spend a roster spot on what amounts to an emergency cornerback and another coach? Given that the confusion in the secondary was one of the biggest weak spots to an otherwise stellar defense, and that one can never have too many cornerbacks… probably.
Of note, his agent is Ben Dogra, Adrian Peterson’s agent—the one who engaged in the shouting match with the Vikings Vice President of Football Operations, Rob Brzenzinski, during the NFL combine.
No word yet on whether or not the Vikings made an offer (though they probably did) or what his market is expected to be. He may also be worth considering as a safety convert. The Vikings plodding free agency period mucks on.