Vikings Finally Address Biggest Roster Need By Signing Top Player

Should Sign Veteran CB
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings entered the off-season with many needs and a huge roster turnover was expected, especially on defense. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensha began by adding Josh Oliver, a tight end, and edge rusher Marcus Davenport to the team on Monday, the start of free agency.

On Tuesday, the Vikings focused on retaining multiple of their own free agents, including the two special teamers Greg Joseph and Andrew DePaola, and starting center Garrett Bradbury. However, the Vikings landed one of the top players available on the market and simultaneously addressed one of the biggest needs.

Vikings Finally Address Biggest Roster Need By Signing Top Player

According to Ian Rapoport, the Vikings are currently working on a deal with the top cornerback on the market, Byron Murphy.

Vikings Finally Address Biggest Roster Need With Top Player
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The purple team entered free agency with only four cornerbacks on the team, including three 2022 rookies, Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth, and Kalon Barnes, and an inexperienced player, Tay Gowan.

That is a disaster waiting to happen and not quite an NFL backfield. New defensive coordinator Brian Flores is running a hard scheme for cornerbacks to play, so the expectation since his signing has been to address the position in the off-season.

Murphy is an excellent player. The cornerback was the first pick of the second round in 2019 and played 56 games for the Cardinals in the last four seasons. He started 48 games in his tenure in Arizona and collected 5 interceptions, 5 fumble recoveries, 3 sacks, 229 combined tackles, and 34 passes defended. He also scored two touchdowns.

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He can play outside and in the slot, a big advantage in today’s NFL. Many receivers, especially the top players, often line up in the slot and Murphy can follow them there. In addition to that, the Vikings are more flexible. If they find another outside cornerback and one or both of Evans and Booth are ready, he could simply slide over into the slot.

PFF wrote about the young player in their free agency rankings: “Murphy boosted his stock this season by playing primarily on the outside after splitting reps with a skew toward the slot over his first three seasons, and he earned the highest overall (66.7) and coverage (63.9) grades of his career in the process. Murphy will be 25 through the entire 2023 regular season, and his inside-outside flexibility makes him an intriguing option for a lot of teams in need of help in the secondary.”

According to Rapoport, Murphy and the Vikings agreed to a two-year deal for $22 million.

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.

The purple team will most likely add another CB to the team and two of their own free agents are still available. Slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan could be a cheap option for the slot in 2023 but he disappointed last season. However, outside cornerback Duke Shelley played wonderfully. The Vikings should look to bring him back to the team. He could start on the outside at least until one of Evans and Booth will take the spot.

Murphy is the second big addition to the defense after the team already added Davenport, a unit that desperately needed some reinforcements. Starters Kendricks, Cameron Dantzler, Patrick Peterson, Dalvin Tomlinson all agreed to deals with a different team.

The biggest needs of the Vikings are now wide receiver after losing Adam Thielen, another cornerback, and defensive tackle, as starters Tomlinson and Jonathan Bullard are no longer on the roster.

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