Defender Wants to Stay with Vikings Beyond 2024

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Mandatory minicamp is in the books for the Minnesota Vikings, and there have been some massive developments. The most consequential one is undoubtedly Justin Jefferson’s contract extension. He is now the highest-paid wide receiver and non-quarterback in the entire league, but his performances over the years have earned him that kind of deal.

Defender Wants to Stay with Vikings Beyond 2024

Defender Wants to Stay with Vikings Beyond 2024
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On the other side of the ball, meanwhile, the defense will look much different in the upcoming season after an up-and-down year, the first one under Brian Flores’ watch. After the departures of some key players, roughly half the starters will be new. Other contributors remain on the team but face competition for the starting roles.

One defender with a spot secured in the secondary is cornerback Byron Murphy. His development into a team’s top CB is crucial for Flores’ unit. Without a shadow of a doubt, the former second-round selection is Minnesota’s top cornerback, but he hasn’t entered the discussion of some other true shutdown corners yet.

He signed a two-year contract in free agency a year ago and is entering his final year under contract.

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In an interview with KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, Murphy revealed that he doesn’t want to go anywhere and hopes to remain with the organization for the long haul.

I don’t think I’m going anywhere. That’s my mindset. I want to stay; I love this place. Since I’ve been here since day one, I have fallen in love. I want to go nowhere. I want to stay here for the rest of my career. I love these guys in the locker room and the coaching—everything about this place is great. I’m going to work my ass off to stay here.

Byron Murphy Jr.

Murphy signed a two-year contract worth $17.5 million. Despite his status as one of the better cornerbacks on the market, he didn’t break the bank. Through one season of that deal, he has been worth that kind of salary, but because he can’t be classified as a bonafide CB1, a contract extension wouldn’t significantly eclipse that number.

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Of course, the defender wouldn’t publically voice any displeasure with the organization, but he has consistently praised the Vikings.

In the upcoming campaign, his second with the Vikings under Flores, the team wants to use him more as a slot cornerback. Murphy has been a versatile defender who can line up inside and outside, but last season, the Vikes asked him to do the latter primarily. The reason for that is apparent: his teammates struggled and couldn’t prove the requisite reliability on the outside.

When the Vikings signed veteran Shaquill Griffin, head coach Kevin O’Connell revealed the plan: “Getting a veteran presence in that room on the outside to go along with Byron Murphy, who now can really shift back to that nickel spot, where he’s one of the better nickels in the league, in my opinion. Any time you make a move at the corner spot, you’re really making a multifaceted move.”

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Murphy will undoubtedly be on the field, but the players around him might change. Last year’s starter Akayleb Evans will compete with Griffin, rookie Khyree Jackson, 2023 third-rounder Mekhi Blackmon, and former second-rounder Andrew Booth. Undrafted rookie Dwight McGlothern has also made a good impression in the minicamp.

In 2023, Murphy lined up 214 times in the slot and 596 times on the outside. The better his teammates develop, the more he can slide into the nickel role and showcase his versatility.

The 26-year-old could become a staple in Minnesota’s defensive 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