Three Veteran CB Options for the Vikings in Free Agency
Last week I talked about why the Vikings should target William Jackson in free agency this offseason. While he is one of the best options at the position, much of the pushback from you astute readers involved his potential price tag. Spotrac may be projecting him to make around $6.2 million for his next deal, but I have to admit, it certainly seems like he should get more given his ability and age. Because of that, I’m bringing the CB discussion back. Here are a few veteran cornerbacks the Vikings could target that will almost certainly be cheap.
Over the past couple years, Josh Norman has been riddled with injuries. That makes this choice a very big risk for Minnesota. It may be worth it, though. He still a very good cornerback while healthy, and just having a former All-Pro in the ear of Cameron Dantzler on the sidelines could be very helpful for the young gun.
He made $6 million in 2020 for Buffalo, but he only played nine games and started three. Of course, the Bills secondary was a tier above that of Minnesota last season, so that contributed to Norman getting fewer snaps. His hamstring injury along with COVID safety protocols certainly played a part as well, though.
All that said, when Norman was on the field, he posted the 17th best PFF grade among cornerbacks at 72.4 which is higher than William Jackson’s 71.4. Granted, it’s a much smaller sample size but still, he was effective when he got on the field. It’s comforting that he seemed motivated after a dreadful final season in Washington during 2019. He is certainly a candidate to sign a one-year “prove it” deal in 2021, and the Vikings are a team that could use him.
Speaking of “prove it” deals, Richard Sherman is still a big name throughout the league. However, the 33-year-old may have to prove he still has his legs under him after a calf strain derailed his 2020 season. He played just five games in 2020 (starting all of them), but again, when he was on the field he still was a competent player.
Sherman posted a PFF grade of 67.7, ranking 38th among CBs. Small sample size means very little, but the numbers say he wasn’t worthy of a CB1 spot in 2020. If Dantzler and the other players continue to develop, though, he may not need to fill that role for the Vikings.
I feel similarly to Sherman’s impact on the Vikings as I do to Norman’s. Even if he isn’t on the field all the time or filling a starting role, his All-Pro presence may be worth a flyer just to get him talking to the young guys. He made nearly $14 million last year, so a pay cut may be hard to swallow for the veteran CB. Of all the players on this list, I am least confident that there won’t be a team willing to throw money at him.
To the surprise of many in Kansas City, the Chiefs managed to bring back Bashaud Breeland in 2020 on a one-year/$4.5 million deal. After serving a four game suspension to begin the year, Breeland played very well.
In 11 games, he posted 38 tackles, a TFL, a FF, and two INTs all while allowing just 50% of his 60 targets to be completed. Breeland may go under the radar once again this offseason with a few bigger names out there (including Jackson), and that is where the Vikings should strike. His PFF grade is underwhelming at 62.8, but that is severely weighed down by his run defense and pass rush. His coverage grade was a very respectable 69.4, which is shown in his coverage statistics mentioned above.
The Chiefs have a few young corners coming up in their system such as L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, and DeAndre Barker. They may be willing to let the 29-year-old walk this time and see what they have with their other players. The Vikings should be drawn to Breeland due to his championship pedigree that he would bring into the locker room.
As I mentioned last week, the Vikings are in desperate need of a veteran player at the cornerback position. This need reared its ugly head in 2020 as Minnesota’s young corners were forced to learn on the fly. Any one of these players would not only provide depth on the field, but they could also serve as an extension of the coaching staff off the field.