1 Viking Quietly Left the Team during Draft

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chandon Sullivan (39) tackles Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) running with the ball during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings cornerback room will look virtually unrecognizable this September, aside from last year’s rookies, Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans.

Another chapter of change occurred this weekend — during the 2023 NFL Draft — and didn’t involve a rookie. Veteran cornerback Chandon Sullivan, a free agent, signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, reuniting the former Packer-turned-Viking with Patrick Peterson. Pittsburgh signed Peterson in March and now Sullivan in April.

1 Viking Quietly Left the Team during Draft

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Some non-draft news: Former Vikings DB Chandon Sullivan is signing with the Steelers, per his agents Katz Brothers Sports.”

Left the Team during
Oct 16, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chandon Sullivan (39) attempts to tackle Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports.

Sullivan was the slot cornerback for the 2022 Vikings, an assignment that turned out to be a one-year pitstop, not all that different from former defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. Minnesota hired Donatell at the dawn of the Kevin O’Connell age, the team won 13 games with the NFL’s second-worst defense per yards allowed, and Donatell was dismissed four days after the Vikings lost in the postseason. Brian Flores was hired thereafter, and Sullivan wasn’t prioritized for a second season in Minnesota.

And this is a trend. All told, cornerbacks Cameron Dantzler (Commanders), Patrick Peterson (Steelers), Duke Shelley (Raiders), Kris Boyd (Cardinals), and now Sullivan skedaddled this offseason. Free agents Byron Murphy (Cardinals) and Joejuan Williams (Patriots) joined while general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah drafted Mekhi Blackmon (USC) and Jay Ward (LSU) last weekend. Change, indeed.

The NFL Had the Gall
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) catches a pass originally ruled as a touchdown as Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chandon Sullivan (39) defends. Instant replay would overturn the call and rule the play an incompletion during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Referees notably robbed Sullivan of two defensive touchdowns — in the same game — against the Indianapolis Colts in December. The Vikings still pulled off the greatest comeback in NFL history, but if officials didn’t prematurely blow dead Sullivan’s fumble returns for touchdowns, the 33-0 halftime hole wouldn’t have been as egregious. Such is life.

In one season with the Vikings, Sullivan fired up a 55.8 Pro Football Focus grade, the 21st-worst leaguewide among 118 qualifying cornerbacks. In that regard, it is no surprise the Vikings said “no thanks” to a Sullivan sequel in 2023. Perhaps he’ll rejuvenate with Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh. His touchdowns might even count.

The NFL Had the Gall to Fine Chandon Sullivan
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chandon Sullivan (39) during training camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Following the announcement of the Steelers signing, Sullivan tweeted, “I Took Notes Of All The Slander Before. Y’all Gonna See. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ.”

Sullivan also posted, “Time To Reclaim My Island! ๐ŸŸกโšซ๏ธ ๐ŸŒด,” although it is unclear where that metaphoric island existed.

As of May 1st, the Steelers employ four former Vikings: Dan Chisena (WR), Mason Cole (C), Patrick Peterson (CB), and Sullivan.

Pittsburgh also signed UDFA quarterback Tanner Morgan from the University of Minnesota on Saturday.

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 Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.