Vikings Should Consider Journeyman Free Agent CB

Oct 27, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby (21) celebrates a defensive play against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings are entering the 2023 season with one of their least experienced cornerback batches in franchise history.

Byron Murphy joined the club this offseason via free agency, but after him, Minnesota is banking on several youthful ‘hopeful maybes’ to blossom into prominence.

Vikings Should Consider Journeyman Free Agent CB

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah oddly didn’t re-sign 2022 upstart corner Duke Shelley, allowing the defender to jaunt westerly to Sin City with the Las Vegas Raiders. Las Vegas snatched Shelley for 1.3 million bucks — a steal of a deal.

Now, Minnesota merely hopes Andrew Booth, Akayleb Evans, Joejuan Williams, or rookie Mekhi Blackmon will stand out at training camp and in the preseason to partner with Murphy for a starter’s job.

And if they’re not entirely comfortable with that hodgepodge, the Vikings should consider the free agency of one unsung journeyman CB for depth — Ronald Darby.

Consider Journeyman
Nov 7, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby (21) breaks up a pass intended for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) during the second half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

Darby, 29, last played for the Denver Broncos and was evidently an odd man out during the team’s shift from Nathaniel Hackett to Sean Payton this offseason. The ex-Bronco remains a free agent and can be signed by any team.

Here’s Darby’s career destination resume to date:

  • Buffalo Bills (2015–2016)
  • Philadelphia Eagles (2017–2019)
  • Washington Football Team (2020)
  • Denver Broncos (2021-2022)
May 23, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby (23) during OTA workouts at the UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Via the rumor mill, the Vikings were connected to All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters for a couple of months, but Peters signed with the Raiders this week — much like Shelley in March. Teams needing corners are down to slim pickings as of late July.

This is Darby’s Pro Football Focus profile since joining the NFL as a 2nd-Round pick in 2015:

  • 2015: 75.8
  • 2016: 68.3
  • 2017: 79.9
  • 2018: 70.6
  • 2019: 44.8
  • 2020: 76.0
  • 2021: 61.1
  • 2022: 71.1
Nov 27, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Ivory (33) runs for a touchdown as Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) defends during the first quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports.

A Super Bowl champion in 2017 — yes, he was on the Eagles team that thumped the Vikings en route to Super Bowl LII — Darby should be gettable for cheap this late in free agency. He’s just waiting on the call.

The Florida State alumnus has played 89 career games, starting 88, while tabulating 8 interceptions, 373 total tackles, and 8 tackles for loss. He tabulated 286 defensive snaps for the 2022 Broncos, along with an impressive 69.9 passer-rating-against. The man is not a Pro Bowler but a tried-and-true starter.

Sep 1, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Buffalo Bills cornerback Ronald Darby (28) looks up at a ball before the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Lions win 31-0. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

If the Vikings have no interest in Darby or another free-agent cornerback, they’ll simply hope for the best and wait for Booth, Evans, Williams, or Blackmon to emerge. Minnesota ranked 27th per defensive DVOA last year, 30th in points allowed, 31st in passing yards allowed, and 31st in overall yards allowed. Brian Flores was hired in February to replace exiting defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, so he’ll apparently have the special sauce to develop young CBs on the fly.

Free-agent corners Eli Apple, William Jackson, and Anthony Brown are also available on the open market.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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