Vikings Can Polish Defense with One More Signing

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The Minnesota Vikings’ defense has undergone tremendous change this offseason, saying goodbye to Danielle Hunter (OLB, Houston Texans), Jordan Hicks (ILB, Cleveland Browns), and D.J. Wonnum (OLB, Carolina Panthers) while welcoming Jonathan Greenard (OLB, Texans), Andrew Van Ginkel (OLB, Miami Dolphins), Blake Cashman (ILB, Texans), and Shaquill Griffin (CB, Panthers).

Vikings Can Polish Defense with One More Signing

Most Vikings fans are optimistic about the changes, though many will miss Hunter, a longtimer in Minnesota. And as free agency winds down, Minnesota could add one more defensive back to polish the secondary. These are the two wisest options — two men with connections to defensive coordinator Brian Flores.

Stephon Gilmore

A four-time Pro Bowler, Gilmore awaits his 2024 marching orders. He played for the New England Patriots from 2017 to 2020, crossing paths with the aforementioned Flores in 2017 and 2018.

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Gilmore started all 17 games for last year’s Dallas Cowboys, registering a wonderful 74.4 Pro Football Focus grade for his troubles. If he signed with the Vikings — or almost any other team — it would represent five teams in five seasons for the 31-year-old.

Here’s his NFL resume to date:

  • Buffalo Bills (2012–2016)
  • New England Patriots (2017–2020)
  • Carolina Panthers (2021)
  • Indianapolis Colts (2022)
  • Dallas Cowboys (2023)
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He was also responsible for a commendable 82.7 passer-rating-against in 2023, which would’ve been wonderful by Vikings cornerbacks’ standards. For now, Minnesota has playable CBs in Byron Murphy, Mekhi Blackmon, Akayleb Evans, Andrew Booth, and Griffin on the roster. Adding Gilmore or the next guy could be a cherry on top of the offseason.

Xavien Howard

Howard didn’t set the world on fire in 2023 — he posted a 55.1 Pro Football Focus grade — but the Vikings don’t adamantly need a lockdown defensive back. They need a veteran defender to help patrol the secondary while the other corners mature and develop.

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The Vikings could sign Howard as an insurance policy and hope the 30-year-old can rekindle some of his glory days. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler and worked alongside Brian Flores from 2019 to 2021 in Miami.

Howard was formally released last month with a post-June 1st designation, meaning Miami will absorb the savings benefit this summer. However, Howard can sign anywhere in the NFL — like now — and if the Vikings are serious about fixing the secondary, this is the guy to polish the secondary. Him or Gilmore.

8 Players We Think
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VikingsTerritory’s Ali Siddiqui endorsed a Howard signing in March, “He should not cost too much, given he is 30, but he would still be a great addition to this defense and knows Brian Flores’ defense well from their time together in Miami.”

Minnesota ranked 32nd leaguewide in 2023 per completion percentage allowed — which is why this spot on the depth chart should receive the utmost attention.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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