Vikings Should Target Expensive Free Agent

The Minnesota Vikings are in their off-season program. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is now asked to build the best possible team for the 2023 season and future years. He has all kinds of problems, starting with a bunch of pending free agents and some aging but expensive veterans on the team.

In addition to that, the franchise lacks the resources to fix all problems, so he has to make smart decisions in the offseason to set up the organization for success in the near future.

Vikings Should Target Expensive Free Agent

Cornerback Jamel Dean is one of many available defensive backs that could help the new Vikings’ defensive coordinator in his quest to fix one of the league’s worst defenses.

Vikings Should Target Expensive Free Agent
Sep 25, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (35) against the Green Bay Packers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Currently, the purple team has a young core of cornerbacks on the roster. 2022 rookies Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans are headlining the group. In addition, the team has Cameron Dantzler under contract for one more season and Kalon Barnes, a rookie and free agent signing from a couple of months ago. His future impact should be limited, barring some unforeseen but not impossible development.

The starting cornerbacks at the end of the season were veteran Patrick Peterson and surprising star Duke Shelley. Both will enter free agency. Peterson expressed his desire to keep playing for the Vikings, while Shelley is a player that the team should re-sign, considering his performances in 2022. He could be a starter until one of the young guys is ready to take his spot, and his salary shouldn’t be high.

General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in August of 2022 at Minnesota Vikings headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota.

Adofo-Mensah needs to add some players to the mix in the draft. The alternative is breaking the bank for a cornerback in free agency, which would allow the Vikings to finally move forward at the position after years of struggle and spend draft capital in other areas.

Jordan Dajani from CBS Sports suggests that the Vikings should go all out on a free agent, cornerback Jamel Dean who played his first four seasons in the league in Tampa Bay. Dean is a pretty consistent player who turned into one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He could be the starter for the Vikings for a few years, as he’s only 26 years old.

Dean is probably the second-best cornerback in this class, and he possesses good enough size and athleticism to attract plenty of attention on the open market. The Vikings pass defense ranked second-worst in the league last year, and it convinced NFL fans during Super Wild Card Weekend that Daniel Jones was the second coming of Josh Allen. Minnesota needs to add to the secondary. Plus, Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan and Kris Boyd are free agents.

Jordan Dajani, CBSsports

Indeed, the Vikings passing defense was a disaster in 2022. Something that needs to be repaired. Mentioning Kris Boyd’s departure is an interesting statement, as he only played 37 snaps on defense, most in Week 18 against the Bears after the starters were pulled. However, all three starting cornerbacks leaving is a big problem.

Load the Box: Position Battles
Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Keelan Cole (84) is defended by Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) in the first half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Booth and Evans struggled to stay on the field because of injuries and are still inexperienced players. They can’t be fully trusted at this point. Until proven otherwise, the Vikings would be foolish to insert them into the starting lineup and expect good things to happen.

Veteran Dantzler missed half of the season with an ankle injury and then some more time because of an unknown personal matter. He’s a big mystery and shouldn’t be viewed as the solution. Therefore, bringing in an excellent cornerback wouldn’t be a bad idea. Dean ranked as the 11th-best cornerback in the NFL in 2022, according to PFF.

His good play, however, could be a problem in signing him. Of course, a player’s value goes up after playing well, something the Vikings will experience with center Garrett Bradbury. Cornerback is an essential position in the modern NFL, a pass-heavy league.

Oct 9, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Caleb Huntley (42) runs with the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (35) and safety Mike Edwards (32) tackle during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Having two good CBs is rare, so many teams pursue cornerback help. Dean could end up getting a lot of money in free agency. Spotrac predicts his contract at over $16 million per season, a huge investment for the cap-strapped Vikings.

The purple team is currently roughly $23 million over the cap limit and has to save money. It would mean that the organization invests most of the available cap space after releasing players and restructuring contracts in Dean. It could be worth it to fix the cornerback room, but other holes on the team, like linebacker, offensive line, or defensive tackle, would remain and had to be addressed in the draft, despite not having a second-round pick.

It could be an option to sign someone who can instantly fix the issue, but a smaller, more short-term solution is more likely.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt