Once-Promising Vikings Defender Begins New Chapter in UFL

Wild Ride
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It was the 2020 offseason when the Minnesota Vikings were forced to overhaul the defensive unit. Head coach Mike Zimmer watched various core defenders leave the organization, especially the exits of Xavier Rhodes, Linval Joseph, and Everson Griffen were massive blows. The last time a Zimmer-led defense was effective was in 2019.

Once-Promising Vikings Defender Begins New Chapter in UFL

Once-Promising Vikings Defender Begins New Chapter in UFL
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The problems increased when Michael Pierce, the top addition, opted out of the 2020 campaign because of uncertainty about how COVID would impact his asthma. Because the salary cap was tight, Minnesota was forced to replace the other players in the draft. Justin Jefferson highlighted the 2020 draft class, while cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Cam Dantzler were forced to be immediate contributors.

Because of an off-field incident that led to his premature release, which, in hindsight, was a mistake, Gladney’s Vikings career ended early, but Dantzler looked like a promising player in Zimmer’s defense. The third-rounder immediately claimed a large role, but his career has gone downhill since his first few seasons in the NFL.

Former Viking Can Reach
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He has now resurfaced, but not because he signed with an NFL team. Instead, Dantzler joined the San Antonio Brahmas in the UFL, according to UFL reporter James Larsen on X: “BREAKING: The San Antonio Brahmas have signed DB Cameron Dantzler. Dantzler needs no introduction, having been an NFL starter with the Minnesota Vikings for a couple of years. Just a tremendous pickup for this Brahmas secondary.”

Dantzler’s career ark has been a strange one. Immediately competing for a starting role, Dantzler turned heads in his first training camp in 2020. Videos of him challenging Adam Thielen surfaced, and the veteran receiver also talked about how promising the rookie was.

A concussion cost him some games, but he started ten of 11 contests in his debut season. While most rookie CBs are liabilities, Dantzler was solid, even impactful, going against opposing top wideouts.

The Vikings Final Injury Report: Week 10
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Entering his second season, folks thought he could be the next CB1 in Minnesota, Rhodes’ immediate successor. The Vikings then signed Patrick Peterson in free agency and later added Bashaud Breeland. Is the latter just depth or a potential threat for Dantzler? Shockingly, when Week 1 arrived, Dantzler was inactive and controversially went on social media to voice his displeasure.

Dantzler still played 14 games and started seven of them, but he was clearly not Zimmer’s top choice. He only logged extensive snaps when Peterson was hurt or after Breeland was cut. Ed Donatell arrived in 2022, and fans hoped Dantzler would escape the dog house. He did not, playing in ten games and starting nine, because rookies Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans struggled to stay on the field. Late in the year, he was inactive multiple times.

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The Vikings ended up cutting him in the 2023 offseason, with Brian Flores calling the shots despite having a shaky cornerback situation. They later drafted Mekhi Blackmon. In 2024, the same CB group returned. Byron Murphy will start, and the young guys Evans, Booth, and Blackmon will compete with new addition Shaquill Griffin for the remaining roles.

Since the Vikings moved on from the former third-rounder, Dantzler has had a crazy time. He turned into a journeyman trying to earn a spot on a 53-man roster. He appeared in two games with the Saints without seeing the field on defense. Stints with the Commanders, Bills, and Texans only lasted a few weeks, and it is pretty alarming that he can’t find a job.

Week 16 Vikings Injury Report
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At age 25, Dantzler’s career is not over, but if he can’t rediscover his old level of play, he might be done sooner rather than later. The UFL is his chance, perhaps the last one, to make enough noise to earn a training camp invitation from an NFL franchise.

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