Cameron Dantzler Joins AFC Contender

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Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) catches the game winning touch down in front of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Three Vikings’ starters from the 2022 season were released in March. Adam Thielen and Eric Kendricks were the two biggest names after a combined 18 seasons for the Vikes. Kendricks joined the Los Angeles Chargers and Thielen the Carolina Panthers and first-overall pick, Bryce Young. But Cameron Dantzler was waived and his offseason journey began.

Cameron Dantzler Joins AFC Contender

Cameron Dantzler Joins AFC Contender
Sep 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler Sr. before action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports.

Dantzler was a 2020 third-round pick, a draft in which the Vikes had to get some cornerback help after not addressing the position in free agency despite the departures of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, and Mackensie Alexander. Rick Spielman selected Jeff Gladney in the first round a few picks after picking up Justin Jefferson and Dantzler a couple of rounds later.

The rookie with the nickname ‘the Needle’ wowed the Vikings in training camp and quickly became a starter in Mike Zimmer’s defense. Dantzler overcame some early season struggles and a concussion but looked promising in the last few games of the 2020 season even against some excellent receivers.

However, Dantzler couldn’t continue to play at that level which indicates that head coach Mike Zimmer probably helped him with his scheme in 2020 and protected him as well as possible. The fact that Dantzler was stuck behind Bashaud Breeland in 2021 was a strange move for most spectators.

Former Viking Can Reach
Oct 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler Sr. (3) in action during the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Once Zimmer left and a new coaching staff took over, folks expected Dantzler to have a breakout campaign but that never happened. He started opposite Patrick Peterson but he certainly didn’t play great football. Dantzler sprained his ankle in Week 9 against Washington and missed some time.

After his comeback in Week 14 against the Lions, a game in which he gave up two scores, Dantzler missed time with a “personal matter.” In Week 17 against the Packers, Dantzler played his last game for the Vikings as a non-starter. He was inactive in Week 18 and in the postseason.

In three seasons with the Vikings, Dantzler played 35 games for the team, including 26 starts. He managed to pick off opposing QBs three times. His best play was arguably the game-clinching forced fumble against the Bears in Week 5 of the 2022 season when he ripped the ball out of Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s hands.

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Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cameron Dantzler. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The 24-year-old was claimed off waivers by the Washington Commanders in March but was waived after only 78 days with the organization. Dantzler signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills, the team announced.

The former Viking is unlikely to be more than a depth signing at this point of the year. Buffalo employs star cornerback Tre’Davious White, 2022 first-rounder Kaiir Elam, Dane Jackson, and Christian Benford as the top guys for the outside CB positions.

Injuries tested the Bills’ secondary last season, so they’ll try to have as much depth as possible at the important position. Cameron Dantlzer will help.

The Vikings, meanwhile, will have a battle between last year’s rookies Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth, and 2023 third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon for the second starting gig next to Byron Murphy in the CB group.

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