Vikings Miss Out on Free Agent Cornerback

NFC Rivals Could Play Spoiler to Ideal Vikings Draft Scenario
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah the team's year-end press conference for the 2022 season after losing to the New York Giants in the playoffs.

The Minnesota Vikings had an unusual turnover in the cornerback room in the 2023 offseason. They lost four starters from the season before — Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, Chandon Sullivan, and Cameron Dantzler. The turnover was uncommon but it was surely necessary after the poor performance in 2022.

Vikings Miss Out on Free Agent Cornerback

miss out on
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Those departed players were replaced by mostly unproven players besides top signing Byron Murphy. The Vikings also added Mekhi Blackmon in the third round of the draft and relied on Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans to make a step in their second year. Joejuan Williams and a bunch of undrafted players were also signed to the roster.

Outside of Murphy, there is close to no experience in that group which is why the strategy resembles gambling more so than roster building in the style of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s and Kevin O’Connell’s so-called Championship Standard that they called out after last season ended.

Bringing in another veteran, someone who at least can be a reliable option to not make silly rookie mistakes, was the desire of some folks in the fanbase for good reason. Entering the season with one proven CB is some form of Russian Roulette. It can work but is very risky and can be fatal, especially if the defense can’t stop the opponent in crucial games like last year when the Giants marched up and down the field in what turned out to be the final game of the season.

Work out Notable
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One of those potential veterans to help the Vikings was Ronald Darby who visited and worked out for the purple team a couple of weeks ago. He left without a deal just like Dalton Risner and Kareem Hunt did. It is unclear if the Vikings pursued him and he turned them down or if they thought he wasn’t worth a deal.

However, Darby visited and ultimately signed with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday and is no longer on the market. The Ravens will be without top cornerback Marlon Humphrey for a while so they needed some help.

The value of his contract is reportedly “up to $3.2 million for one season.” Adofo-Mensah has roughly $10.5 million cap space left. Darby played in 89 career games and was part of Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run in the 2017 season.

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Injuries have been a frequent problem for the 29-year-old who played in 16 games just once in his eight-year career. Just last season, he tore his ACL for the second time in addition to various other issues. Still, when he was on the field, he was generally at least a solid starter throughout his career.

The Vikings now have the option to pursue other options or to keep the group as is but Brian Flores, the new defensive coordinator, might have to turn into a miracle worker with the suspect personnel in the secondary. Ex-Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown or William Jackson who was with Flores in Pittsburgh last year are perhaps the best available options. There is not much left on the cornerback market.

It remains to be seen if Blackmon and Evans, the projected starters next to Murphy, can hold up in the NFL on a consistent basis. Both have looked solid in training camp but until they prove it on the field, they should be considered a weakness of the team.

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