Vikings Urged to Go After Free Agent

Jul 28, 2018; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings new training facility TCO Performance Center in Eagan MN. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have completed their 53-man roster, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah included some surprises. For one, he waived Luiji Vilain to keep Andre Carter, an undrafted rookie, on the team, but Vilain went unclaimed through the waiver process and landed on the practice squad, just like the only released draft pick, DeWayne McBride.

Vikings Urged to Go After Free Agent

Another surprise was the release of veteran cornerback Joejuan Williams, keeping only five CBs, including special teams player NaJee Thompson, who should perhaps not be counted as a defender.

The three projected starters are Byron Murphy and Akayleb Evans on the outside, with Mekhi Blackmon in the slot. Andrew Booth is the top backup. Except for Murphy, that group is unbelievably inexperienced and possibly lacks another body, so Vikings fans want the team to add another veteran cornerback for those reasons.

Oct 25, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Bradley Roby (21) tackles Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Freddie Swain (18) during the first quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports.

One of those veterans has been available since cutdown day when the New Orleans Saints parted ways with Bradley Roby. Alex Ballentine from Bleacher Report thinks the purple team should call him:

The Minnesota Vikings have one of the youngest cornerback groups in the NFL. In some ways, that’s exciting. They could have some breakout players in a group that includes new free-agent signee Byron Murphy Jr., second-year players Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr. as well as third-round pick Mekhi Blackmon.

However, going into the season with almost no experience at a position as crucial as corner is a scary proposition. The Vikings let Patrick Peterson walk this offseason and haven’t replaced him with another veteran.

Bradley Roby should be on their radar. He’s been on a lot of good teams, including the Denver Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50.

Roby is on the downside of his career at 31 years old, but he played well when the New Orleans Saints called upon him last season. He held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 79.4 on 63 targets.

He would be a strong veteran presence for a group of young players who might need it.

Alex Ballentine, Bleacher Report

Blackmon, Evans, and Booth combine for three career starts and 267 snaps on defense. Roby has logged over 6,000 defensive plays in 126 career games. His presence would take a lot of pressure off those young players, and they could take their time to develop into NFL cornerbacks.

Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby (21) tackles Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) in an AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The veteran is 31 years old, so he wouldn’t be viewed as a long-term solution, and he would perhaps also be an underwhelming solution. His PFF grade dipped in 2022, and he wasn’t ranked in the top 100 at his position.

  • 2022 – 45.4
  • 2021 – 64.6
  • 2020 – 71.5
  • 2019 – 64.0
  • 2018 – 59.9
  • 2017 – 78.3
  • 2016 – 63.6
  • 2015 – 75.0
  • 2014 – 67.7

However, the two Vikings, Booth and Evans, had sub-50 grades in a tiny sample size in 2022 as well. In case of uncertainty, an older guy is always a better solution than the younger player because inexperienced players are prone to make mistakes.

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (11) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. (23) talk during warmups prior to the game at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to that, Booth has been hurt for the majority of his career since high school, and Evans missed time with three concussions last season. It is quite possible that the Vikings need their backups earlier in the season than expected, and it would be a lot better if Roby were in the building than if they had to roll with a cornerback from the streets without Roby’s experience.

A possible reason why the Vikings haven’t added another defensive back is that they kept six safeties, and Camryn Bynum and Jay Ward played cornerback in college. Adofo-Mensah recently voiced that option.

The GM brought in various veterans for workouts in training camp, and Roby is another one they should consider.

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