In need of cornerback depth, the Minnesota Vikings added a veteran Saturday, signing Bene Benwikere, most recently of the Oakland Raiders.
With Holton Hill suspended for the first eight games of the season and Mike Hughes still on the physically unable to perform list as he rehabs from a torn ACL, the Vikings needed some insurance beyond starters Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.
Benwikere, out of San Jose State, was a fifth-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2014 after Carolina traded up with the Vikings to take him. He started 14 games in three seasons with the Panthers but has struggled to find a home since. The Vikings become his eighth different team in less than three years.
Minnesota reportedly tried out Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne as well, but Scandrick signed with the Eagles and Claiborne faces a four-game suspension from the league.
“Just kind of keep turning over rocks and see if we can find something that fits,” Zimmer said last week of the team’s approach to signing another defensive back.
Benwikere, 27, is listed at 6-0, 195 pounds. He played 560 snaps for the Arizona Cardinals a year ago before being cut and landing with the Raiders, where he scarcely saw the field. Benwikere graded 109th out of 131 qualified corners in coverage last year, per Pro Football Focus. The analytics site graded him highest as a rookie in 2014 when Benwikere made six starts and posted the eighth-highest coverage grade in the NFL.
Rookie Vikings CB Terrence Alexander was waived to make room for Benwikere on the roster.