The Minnesota Vikings announced on Wednesday that they have re-signed cornerback Terence Newman, a key component of their defense over the past two years.
We have agreed to terms with CB @terencenewman.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) March 15, 2017
He will be the first 39-year-old cornerback in the NFL since Darrell Green in 1999. While Darrelle Revis has slowed down enough to become a liability at age 31, Newman still seems to be going strong and in some respects has been leading the league in particular coverage categories.
Newman is currently the Pro Football Focus record-holder in limiting yards after the catch, all the more impressive on a team who had the Philadelphia Eagles on the schedule and play in a division with the Detroit Lions.
Newman surrendered a ridiculous 31 total yards after the catch all season long. That number is almost the exact same as a receiver catching the ball and then falling forward on every reception. At 38 years old, Newman was among the top 10 CBs for passer rating (62.0), completion percentage (51.8), and yards surrendered (245).
Being in the top 10 among CBs in passer rating, total yards and completion rate allowed is what helped drive Newman to the ninth overall spot in Pro Football Focus’ grades.
While Newman didn’t typically cover the opposing team’s top receiver, it would be frustrating for any fan to know that their second receiver would only get 245 total yards on the year—which is essentially what Newman accomplished.
His on-field role is critical, but he’s also provided an enormous impact for teammates. Xavier Rhodes told Matthew Coller at 1500ESPN that playing with Newman was a “blessing.”
“T-Newman is a blessing to the team, man” Rhodes said. “I tell everyone, he’s a coach within the lines. Once you go between those lines, a coach can’t go on the field with you but with him it’s like he’s a coach out there. He’s always making sure I’m in the right alignment, doing the right thing, asking me questions once we get off the field like, ‘Hey, what did you do on that route?’ He’s always asking questions, coaching me up, and that’s a great thing to have with you.”
Newman’s age will be an issue, and there’s a good chance that this might be his last go-round in the NFL. The Vikings are hoping to see development from Trae Waynes to take over Newman’s spot and it’s likely that there will be open competition between the two in order to take the starting job.
It might also not be unreasonable to speculate that this might mean Waynes hasn’t developed as much as the Vikings had hoped, though there are positive signs with what he’s done in 2016 as an improvement.
Regardless, Newman either immediately provides a great starting option or fantastic depth.