Vikings Are a Perfect Fit for Top Free Agent

The Minnesota Vikings need to be efficient in the offseason. The draft capital and the cap space are limited, so Kwesi Adofo-Mensah needs to hit on the top signings and the first selection in the draft.

The Vikings enter March way over the salary cap. Currently, the team is roughly $24 million over the limit. At least a handful of moves are necessary to change that and to bring the team under the cap in the next couple of weeks before the new league year starts on March 15. It can be achieved by releasing veterans with big contracts, contract extensions, and restructuring deals.

Adofo-Mensah has to fill a multitude of spots. Signing one of the best players in free agency could be a huge difference-maker in the 2023 campaign.

Vikings Are a Perfect Fit for Top Free Agent

One of the biggest tasks for the Vikings front office in the next two months is to build a competitive cornerback room. Adding a starting-caliber cornerback in free agency is a potential option.

Vikings Are a Perfect Fit For Top Free Agent
Oct 23, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (35) leaves the field after the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback Jamel Dean was named a perfect fit for the Minnesota Vikings, and simultaneously the top player available at his position, by Jordan Dajani, CBSSports. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer is regarded by many as the top cornerback on the market. Dean was a third-round selection in 2019, and he appeared in 64 games for the Buccs, including 44 starts. He also started in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago when the defense locked down Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill.

The Minnesota Vikings pass defense ranked second-worst in the league last year. There’s no doubt they need to add to the secondary — especially with Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan and Kris Boyd being free agents.

Jordan Dajani, CBSSports

Indeed, the potential departures of cornerback in free agency are a big problem. Patrick Peterson starred on the Vikings defense in 2022 but will turn 33 in August. It is unlikely that he can play at that level for much longer. A different team might end up offering him more money for his services.

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.

At the end of the season, Duke Shelley stepped into the spotlight and became one of the better cornerbacks in the league after he was released from the Bears in August. It remains to be seen if he can repeat that level of play or if it was just a flash in the pan.

Both departing outside cornerbacks could be targets for the Vikings to bring back. They have already expressed their desire to re-sign in Minnesota. Slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan could be on his way out after one season with the club. He was one of the weak spots of the struggling defensive unit, and a new slot cornerback could be an easy fix for some problems.

Currently, the team only has five CBs on the roster, and they all have a question mark. Andrew Booth Jr. and Akayleb Evans were 2022 draft picks and could be the future of the position in Minnesota. However, they are still inexperienced players and need time to develop. Asking them to step into a starting role would be too risky. The Vikings should treat them as developmental players at this point and add some veterans to take the starting spots, at the very least, to begin the season.

Backups Kalon Barnes and Tay Gowan are just that, backups. Cameron Dantzler is the final name. He played well in his rookie season in 2020, but it appeared that neither Mike Zimmer nor the 2022 coaching staff really trusted him. It will be interesting to see if he is even a part of the roster in September when the season kicks off.

Oct 9, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Caleb Huntley (42) runs with the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (35) and safety Mike Edwards (32) tackle during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Dean would be a great signing for the Vikings. He would immediately occupy one of the starting spots and upgrade the secondary to a solid level — a great signing but also a costly one. Pro Football Focus projected his next deal at $17 million per season, and Spotrac expects his market value to be at $16.5 million annually.

The cornerback handled the coverage duties in one of the best defenses in the last few years. He can be an instant difference-maker. He also ranks number five in PFF’s free agency ranking and is the top cornerback available.

New defensive coordinator Brian Flores would certainly appreciate the upgrade at a struggling position.

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