ESPN Deems Vikings ‘Best Fit’ for Free Agent CB

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have three cornerbacks under contract for the 2023 season as of February 20th:

  • Andrew Booth
  • Cameron Dantzler
  • Akayleb Evans

While the group has upside, there isn’t much guaranteed oomph at least to inspire CB1 confidence for a Super Bowl-contending team.

ESPN Deems Vikings ‘Best Fit’ for Free Agent CB

And that’s probably why ESPN named the Vikings the ‘best fit’ this week for a free agent cornerback from the Arizona Cardinals — Byron Murphy.

ESPN Deems Vikings
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The media giant released an article Tuesday detailing the best team fits for the NFL’s Top 50 free agents, and Murphy to Vikings evidently makes sense. ESPN’s Matt Bowen explained the idea, “The Vikings would have to make some moves to create more money on the salary cap, but there is a real need for coverage corners in Minnesota to fit the scheme of new defensive coordinator Brian Flores.”

“Only Detroit and Chicago allowed more yards per pass attempt than the Vikes last season (7.3). Murphy’s production took a hit this season — four pass breakups — but he did record four interceptions and 12 pass breakups in 2021. And he has the man-coverage traits to play inside or outside the numbers,” Bowen concluded.

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Murphy, who turned 25 in January, is a true-blue agent and former 2nd-Round draft pick by the Cardinals in 2019. He battled a back injury in 2022 and apparently may not be a priority for new Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort to re-sign.

Here’s Murphy’s Pro Football Focus resume through four seasons:

  • 2019 = 48.3
  • 2020 = 64.7
  • 2021 = 58.5
  • 2022 = 66.7

And his passer rating against in the same timeframe:

  • 2019 = 111.2
  • 2020 = 92.5
  • 2021 = 87.6
  • 2022 = 103.1
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Murphy was the league’s 46th-best cornerback per PFF in 2022 despite battling the back injury. If signed by the Vikings, he’d likely be thrust to the front of the group for CB1 duty, although he’s not an asset absolutely guaranteed to beat out Andrew Booth or an early-round rookie CB from the 2023 NFL Draft. He’s a player the team would sign where fans would hope his career blossoms in Minnesota.

Arizona’s CB secondary struggled last year, ranking 22nd in passing yards allowed, so if they don’t want Murphy back for a second contract, it might be considered a subtle red flag. Still, the Vikings need corners, and perhaps new defensive coordinator Brian Flores could polish Murphy into a premier starter.

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the team’s year-end press conference for the 2022 season after losing to the New York Giants in the playoffs.

The Vikings are underwater via the salary cap by about $21 million as of February 20th and are expected to release some veteran players with cap-clearing maneuvers. Murphy is forecasted to fetch about $8 or $9 million per season from his next contract.

Murphy was teammates with Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle Vita Vea at the University of Washington.

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