Potential Vikings FA Target Released by Commanders

The Minnesota Vikings need some reinforcements for their defensive unit after a disastrous 2022 season. The draft, but especially free agency, is the way to go for immediate improvements. Many players could help the Vikings.

Dalvin Tomlinson, starting defensive tackle in Minnesota in the last couple of years, is set to enter free agency, barring an extension, just like the three cornerbacks Patrick Peterson, Duke Shelley, and Chandon Sullivan. The replacement for Sullivan may have just appeared on the free agency market.

Potential Vikings FA Target Released by Commanders

Vikings FA
Nov 20, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Nico Collins (12) makes a reception as Washington Commanders safety Bobby McCain (20) attempts to make a tackle during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Commanders released starter Bobby McCain on Monday. McCain is listed as a safety, but he is much more flexible than that. In 2022, he played roughly half of his snaps as a slot cornerback. That’s a position where the Vikings need help.

Mackensie Alexander departed for the second time after a terrible 2021 campaign, and the Vikings replaced him with Chandon Sullivan. The former Packer was sometimes a liability but is at least serviceable more often than not. However, an upgrade could help the Vikings fix some problems in coverage across the middle of the field.

Another interesting aspect is that McCain played for new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores in Miami. Flores is playing an aggressive defensive style. For that, he needs flexible players, and McCain would fit that perfectly.

Past connections are one of the NFL’s most meaningful but underlooked factors. Coaches and their players often team up again, just like coaches and their assistants. Just last week, the Vikings hired two new coaches to the defensive staff. Both of them worked with Brian Flores before.

Kevin O’Connell joined the Vikings last off-season and brought Johnny Mundt with him. Linebackers coach Mike Smith was part of his coaching staff after previously coaching in Green Bay. That factored into the signing of Za’Darius Smith.

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores talks with defensive players Jerome Baker (55), Kamu Grugier-Hill (51), Brandon Jones (29) and Bobby McCain (28) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 15, 2020. (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)

McCain knows Flores, and he knows his defensive scheme. Both things can be important. It undoubtedly would help to have some players familiar with the new scheme rather than teaching the whole team a new system.

The defender will turn 30 in August, and it is unlikely that he will sign a big deal in free agency. Even more reason to target McCain is that he doesn’t cost the Vikings future compensatory picks because he was released.

As a former fifth-round pick in the 2014 draft, McCain has had a long career, much longer than expected for a player selected on day three of the draft. In his lengthy career, McCain collected 393 tackles, four sacks, and 11 interceptions in 121 games. He started 87 contests for Miami and Washington.

There are some phenomenal highlight clips from McCain’s 2022 campaign:

The defensive back is listed at 192 pounds. It’s not easy for a player of his size to make a play against a fullback and running back like that. He completely blew up the running play. Contributions from defensive backs in the running game inside are something the Vikings lacked in 2022. He also made an excellent play against Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn.

The grades from Profootballfocus are unspectacular but solid.

  • 2015 – 60.6
  • 2016 – 61.9
  • 2017 – 76.4
  • 2018 – 57.9
  • 2019 – 63.6
  • 2020 – 62.1
  • 2021 – 70.9
  • 2022 – 61.4
Predictions for Vikings Rookies
Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) performs a drill at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings currently don’t have a player who can play in the slot on the roster for the 2023 season. However, the team employs a plethora of safeties, including superstar Harrison Smith, first-rounder Lewis Cine, 2022 starter Camryn Bynum, and Josh Metellus.

The purple team needs help on defense, and adding McCain makes sense on multiple levels. He could be a cheap reinforcement for Flores’ unit and offers some familiarity.

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