The Minnesota Vikings have been making plenty of moves this offseason. They traded away Stefon Diggs, extended some players, cut Josh Kline, and lost some key pieces of their team in free agency. Cornerback is a position that has gotten hit extra hard. The team released Xavier Rhodes prior to the start of free agency and has since lost both Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.
While those three moves were expected, the Vikings secondary is suddenly very thin and very young. They have to add a veteran presence to their group that consists of Mike Hughes, Holton Hill and Kris Boyd as the top-three options. Luckily, there are still some good players available on the market and here are four of them that the Vikings could look at.
OPTION 1: Nickell Robey-Coleman
Robey-Coleman is notorious for his hit in the 2019 NFC Championship Game that basically changed the rules on pass interference. He was released by the Rams on March 17 and has yet to sign with a new team. The Vikings would be wise to look into this guy.
While Robey-Coleman doesn’t have nearly the size Mike Zimmer prefers in his corners, as he’s only 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, he makes up for it with his physicality and technique. Robey-Coleman can stick to his man like glue and has the speed to stay stride for stride with most wide receivers. He loves hitting and would be a huge asset supporting the run.
Despite his short stature, Robey-Coleman allowed a completion rate below 66 percent over the last two years which is pretty impressive. He also has the experience the Vikings need in their cornerback corps, having played in the league since 2013. If he joined the Vikings he’d probably play in the slot, taking over Alexander’s old position. There wouldn’t be much of a drop-off, and his run support would even be an upgrade.
OPTION 2: MoRRIS Claiborne
Claiborne is actually a guy the Vikings kicked the tires on back in July of last year. They ultimately didn’t sign him, but to know that they had interest enough to bring him in shows he’s someone they think could work in their system.
While Claiborne has pretty much been a bust since being selected with the sixth overall pick 2012, he does have some positives going for him. He’s got enough size, standing 5-foot-11 with long, lanky limbs he uses to swat passes away. He’s played in 85 career games, so he’s got plenty of experience, and continues to find work in the league despite not living up to his lofty draft status.
Adding Claiborne to this group of young and inexperienced corners would almost be like having a coach on the field, and the knowledge he could bestow upon Hughes, Hill and Boyd would be extremely beneficial. With Claiborne bouncing around the league the last few seasons, and his age of 30 years old, he should come at an affordable price.
The Vikings could sign him to a one-year deal, giving them a much-needed veteran presence in their cornerback group.
OPTION 3: LOGAN RYAN
Ryan was one of the better cornerbacks available at the start of free agency and remains without a team mostly due to his contract demands. It makes sense he would want a nice payday after the season he posted in 2019. He racked up 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions and forced four fumbles. That is extremely impressive.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound corner is an all-around excellent cornerback who can stay tight on the man he’s covering and also doesn’t hesitate to come up and lay a big hit on a ball carrier. He has excellent ball skills and if he isn’t coming down with the ball in his hands, he’s more than likely knocking a pass away. He’d look extremely nice in purple, but the chances of that happening are small. Ryan doesn’t want to take any sort of pay cut and is still seeking around the $30 million he got from the Titans back in 2017.
There are a couple of factors going in the Vikings favor when it comes to signing Ryan. He is 30 years old and the fact he’s been available for a week without much interest could bring his price down. If the Vikings were somehow able to sign Ryan, they’d have to cut or restructure another player or two. A Riley Reiff contract restructure or a trade of Anthony Harris would be the most likely solutions to freeing up cap space.
Ryan would be a huge upgrade to the Vikings’ secondary and would become the No. 1 cornerback on the depth chart. His asking price makes this unlikely, but crazier things have happened.
OPTion 4: Ronald Darby
Darby is still available on the free-agent market, and is a corner the Vikings should definitely look into.
Darby broke into the NFL with a bang. He had an excellent rookie season with the Buffalo Bills where he had 61 tackles, 21 pass breakups and two interceptions. He also started 15 games that year and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year by various media outlets. That seems to be where he peaked though. Since then, Darby’s play has declined and after his second season in Buffalo, he was dealt to the Philadelphia Eagles.
It was in Philadelphia where Darby began getting bit by the injury bug.
In his first game with the team, he dislocated his ankle and missed the majority of the season. The following year he tore his ACL and in 2019, he was plagued with a hip injury. Despite the injuries, Darby is still only 26 years old and when healthy has great overall speed. He’s also an aggressive tackler and would push Hughes and Hill for a starting job. The Vikings will want to make sure he passes a physical and their doctors are okay with his various ailments before signing him to a deal. He does have upside, and with his injury history and recent subpar play, he could be had at a very affordable price.