The Minnesota Vikings on Friday announced the signing of two former Alliance of American Football players. Defensive backs Derron Smith (pictured above) and Duke Thomas were added to the roster. Both defenders played for the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF.
Smith (5-10, 200) is a safety who played collegiately at Fresno State. He was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. During the 2017 season he was signed off the Bengals practice squad and joined the Cleveland Browns’ active roster. He played out 2017 with the Browns and was released prior to the 2018 season.
In two plus seasons with the Bengals he appeared in 31 games, mainly playing special teams. Smith appeared in seven games with the Browns and was waived during roster cuts before the 2018 season.
He signed with the Commanders of the AAF in December. In eight games for San Antonio he had three interceptions and broke up five passes while collecting a total of 37 tackles. His eight defensive stops were a top-10 figure among safeties according to PFF.
Smith was named the AAF Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus. He was the highest-graded player in the league. Cam Mellor of PFF wrote “Smith was absolutely dominant on the backend for the Commanders. He was strong in coverage, run defense and with his tackling, all leading to the top overall grade among all players in the AAF.”
The 27 year-old was given a two-year deal by the Vikings.
Catching up on some #Vikings stuff after another busy day at Final Four. Safety Derron Smith signed a two-year minimum deal. He's on the books for a base salary of $720,000 in 2019 and $820,000 for 2020 and has some bonuses he could get. CB Duke Thomas signed a one-year deal.
— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) April 5, 2019
Thomas (5-10, 192) played college football at Texas. The Texas native signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He was released during roster cuts but joined the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad soon after. From there he jumped around to the 49ers and Cowboys’ practice squads. In Dallas he was placed on IR and missed the 2017 season with an injury.
Last October, Thomas had a short stint in the CFL with the practice squad of the Toronto Argonauts. He was released a few weeks later but received an opportunity with the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders after that.
The journeyman had a team-high 22 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery for the Commanders. Now, he’s a Minnesota Viking after inking a one-year deal. Up to this point the 24 year-old has never taken part in a regular season NFL game.
— San Antonio Commanders (@aafcommanders) March 24, 2019
With the addition of Smith and Thomas, here’s a look at the Vikings’ defensive backfield:
- Xavier Rhodes
- Trae Waynes
- Mackensie Alexander
- Mike Hughes
- Holton Hill (SUSPENDED)
- Craig James
- Jalen Myrick
- Duke Thomas