Vikings Really Dropped the Ball with 1 Offseason Decision

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings had various offseason decisions afoot after the club lost to the New York Giants at home in the 2022 playoffs. One of them featured the future of upstart cornerback Duke Shelley.

Well, Minnesota rendered a verdict Thursday, as Shelley, 26, signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Vikings Really Dropped the Ball with 1 Offseason Decision

The Raiders Twitter account tweeted, “Landed in Vegas. We have signed unrestricted free agent CB Duke Shelley.”

Vikings Really Dropped
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

So, Shelley is no longer a Viking, and he isn’t coming back anytime soon. He’ll hope to continue his bust-out performance from 2022 — and he probably should’ve been given that audition with the Vikings. There’s an advantage to a player popping up from the shadows and thriving — nobody really knows who he is. And that translates to affordability. Because Shelley wasn’t coveted coming out of college — and then the Chicago Bears mismanaged his skillset — he doesn’t have name recognition.

Well, one source told VikingsTerritory that Minnesota offered Shelley the league minimum, making the transaction for the Raiders a no-brainer in hindsight. Why would Shelley accept the league minimum in purple when he could fetch a bit more in Nevada? The financial parameters of the deal should be announced within a couple of days.

1 Vikings Free Agent Wants to Come Back
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Duke Shelley (20) signals an incompletion after breaking up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) on Sunday, January 1, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Tork Mason/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.

Shelley may have produced Keenumish lightning in a bottle last season. You shouldn’t be surprised one iota if you pull up Pro Football Focus next November and discover Shelley graded at a 55.0 or so. This happens. The Bears wanted to use Shelley as a slot cornerback, probably because of his physical stature. That just wasn’t his game. Minnesota used him on the outside — and boom — he turned in Top 5 cornerback play, at least for a season.

These were the NFL’s top cornerbacks in 2022, per Pro Football Focus:

  1. Sauce Gardner = 87.9
  2. Patrick Surtain = 86.8
  3. Jalen Ramsey = 86.4
  4. Duke Shelley = 82.9
  5. Isaiah Rodgers = 82.1

Now, he’ll venture to Las Vegas and toss the same chip on his shoulder from last season. It’s jealousy stuff, to be sure, but Vikings fans will have to merely observe from afar as Shelley hopes to replicate a Daniel Carlson-like Vikings aftermath — on Daniel Carlson’s team. You can’t make this stuff up.

Should Shelley show up for 2023, and play terribly, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be vindicated. Yet, at an affordable pricetag, Shelley could’ve been allotted the opportunity to excel in Minnesota. If he ended up a shell of his 2022 self, who cares? This isn’t a $10 million per-season ordeal.

The Vikings 1 Standout
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have now watched four CB bodies waltz out the door this offseason — Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Chandon Sullivan, and Shelley — while onboarding just one newcomer, Byron Murphy from the Arizona Cardinals.

More cornerback depth is required, and it’s a little weird Shelley was the odd man out. In the end, Vikings fans must assume new defensive coordinator Brian Flores knows best.

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