The Irony of Luke Kuechly’s ‘Best in the NFL’ Statement about Vikings

The Irony of Luke Kuechly's 'Best in the NFL' Statement about Vikings
Sep 25, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) is hit by Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports.

A week and a half ago, former All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly joined ESPN’s Sportscenter to offer some insights on the 2022 NFL offseason.

Kuechly was asked about the best secondary in the league, and out of nowhere, he nominated the Minnesota Vikings, “I’m going to go with the Vikings. Harrison Smith, Patrick Peterson, two young rookies — Lewis Cine out of Georgia, and they drafted [Andrew] Booth out of Clemson.”

Dec 8, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The name-drop by Kuechly was surprising because, in March, Minnesota’s secondary seemed suspect, headlined only by Harrison Smith and Cameron Dantzler. But then general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed Patrick Peterson, added Chandon Sullivan at cornerback, and then drafted Cine and Booth, as mentioned by Kuechly.

Of course, the video clip made the rounds in the Vikings digital community because Kuechly isn’t a pea-brained spitter of falsehoods. The man knows his stuff and really had no preordained reason to announce Minnesota as his pick.

Alas, he did choose the Vikings, and perhaps the team’s secondary isn’t as skimpy as once believed.

And here’s the irony — the Vikings spend very few dollars on the 2022 secondary. Compared to the rest of teams leaguewide, Minnesota allocates the third-fewest cap dollars to its secondary with $23.7 million. Only the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants invest less. Per Spotrac.com, here’s the breakdown:

The Vikings scrape Top 10 categories in the league at quarterback and running back for spending but somehow “make up for it” with a value-based approach with safeties and cornerbacks.

Here’s the full secondary as of May 20th.

Cornerbacks

CB1: Patrick Peterson
CB2: Cameron Dantzler
CB3: Andrew Booth
CB4: Chandon Sullivan
CB5: Akayleb Evans
CB6: Nate Hairston
CB7: Kris Boyd
CB8: Harrison Hand
CB9: Parry Nickerson
CB10: Tye Smith

Safties

SS1: Harrison Smith
SS2: Mike Brown
FS1: Lewis Cine
FS2: Camryn Bynum
FS3: Josh Metellus
FS4: Myles Dorn

And the affordability checks out as Harrison Smith is the only defender inside Minnesota’s secondary earning megabucks.

Overall, if the Vikings bring Kuechly’s hypothesis to life and morph into one of the NFL’s top secondaries, they’ll do it on a teensy budget.

Additionally, that bodes well for the future because Dantzler, Booth, Cine, and Bynum are all under the age of 24.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).