Vikings Top Addition Eloquently Throws Shade at Old Team

Development for CBs
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Byron Murphy spent four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, a 2nd-Round draft pick. He was welcomed to the Vikings from free agency in March 2023.

The Minnesota Vikings entered the offseason with a horrendous cornerback group. Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, and Chandon Sullivan were free agents. Cameron Dantzler, who was waived in March, and the duo of unproven 2022 rookies Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth were the top guys of the unit, a unit that didn’t look NFL-worthy.

Vikings Top Addition Eloquently Throws Shade at Old Team

Vikings Top Addition Eloquently Throws Shade at Old Team
Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy (7) runs with the football after his interception in the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

After having already signed Josh Oliver and Marcus Davenport, the third Vikings addition in free agency was the most significant one for the Vikes, as they addressed the biggest roster flaw. Cornerback Byron Murphy, one of the best available CBs, joined defensive coordinator Brian Flores in his attempt to overhaul the deficient defense.

Minnesota also added Mekhi Blackmon in the draft and Joejuan Williams in free agency. Those two and Evans and Booth are expected to be contestants for the remaining spot because Murphy will surely start. Rookie Jay Ward could become the team’s nickel cornerback.

Murphy, the 33rd overall pick in the 2019 draft, played his first four seasons in Arizona, where he appeared in 56 games and started 48 of those contests. He secured five interceptions. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to play inside and outside, which helps to stop elite receivers. No matter where they line up, Murphy can follow them if Flores intends to do that. He’s also a physical cornerback with excellent quickness.

Last year, (was the) first time (of me) actually getting injured, sitting out that many games, kind of brought me back to reality. I’m here, I’m doing all those things. (I’m) just happy to get away from that situation. Always thankful for that team, coming from there, but I’m just here now. Excited, and happy, this is just better for me. Everything is better.

Byron Murphy
Sep 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (7) celebrates after scoring on a 59-yard fumble recovery in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Notable was Murphy looked around in the direction of the facility with a smile and winked at the reporter during the last sentence. He only played in nine games because of a back injury in 2022.

It is well known that the Vikings were the best organization according to the NFL player team report cards, a survey done by the NFL Players Association where players could grade their teams. The Vikings were the best team, and guess who ranked 31st, only trailing the Commanders? Exactly, the Cardinals.

The Cardinals’ report card is a shocking read:

The Arizona Cardinals rank second to last in their overall score among the 32 NFL clubs. The locker room does not have confidence that owner Michael Bidwill is willing to invest to upgrade the facilities, as he ranks the lowest in that category across the league. The responses that provide the bases for that characterization include: the worst-ranked weight room, which some players feel is a safety hazard; an outdated training room and locker room; and a policy of deducting dinner from players’ paychecks should players want to get food from the facility.

The consistent sentiment in players’ responses was that ownership does not provide high quality workplace facilities, and Club policies reflected the lowest rate of confidence that current ownership is willing to invest to make upgrades.

Minnesota’s card, in comparison, is a whole different story:

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 are ranked as the best team in our guide. 100% of the players feel like owner Zygi Wilf is willing to spend money to upgrade the facilities, and that assessment makes sense since the Vikings have gone through three significant upgrades in recent years.

Their facility was recently built and is considered state-of-the-art. This past year, they replaced former head coach Mike Zimmer with Kevin O’Connell, who through his first year is regarded as one of the most player-friendly head coaches. Additionally, the former head trainer, who several players had negative experiences with, moved on from the organization. The Minnesota Vikings are a shining example of what is possible when a concerted investment is made in both staffing and facilities.

Murphy was also asked about his new teammate Harrison Smith, and he expressed his excitement to play with the potential Hall of Famer, a player he watched growing up, and he knows if he has a question for the longtime Viking, he likely has the answer.

Another Stunning
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith (22) looks on before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith mentioned in an interview earlier in the week that he loves the aggressiveness in the new defense coordinated by Flores. Murphy has a similar mindset:

(I) definitely like that (aggressiveness). As a defensive back you want to get some blitzes in, too. You want to get some tackles, too. The thing is for us DBs, when those blitzes happen, you know the ball is coming fast and it’s time for us to go out there and make those plays. Just us having that kind of defense is a great blessing.

Byron Murphy

The new addition is happy with his fit on the field and the surroundings the Vikings provide him off the field. Making the life of players comfortable is a good way to get them to perform at a high level. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Murphy have a career year in purple.

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