Vikings Linked to $20 Million CB, 5-Time Pro Bowler in Free Agency

The media at large is preoccupied with the Minnesota Vikings‘ hunt for a franchise quarterback, and with good reason, but the team must also address the cornerback position this offseason.

Baltimore Ravens Free Agency: Ex Dallas Cowboy Stephon Gilmore Needed at  Cornerback? - Sports Illustrated Baltimore Ravens News, Analysis and More

As it happens Stephon Gilmore, one of the NFL’s best at the position over the last several years, remains on the market after a furious opening week of free agency. David Kenyon of Bleacher Report on Saturday, March 16 linked the Vikings to Gilmore as among the best fits for his services this upcoming season.

The veteran cornerback has been consistently great at each stop, most recently for the Dallas Cowboys. He yielded 6.9 yards per target and a passer rating of only 82.7 in 2023, ending the season with 13 pass breakups and two interceptions, per Pro Football Focus.

Dallas should consider keeping him, although the return of Trevon Diggs after DaRon Bland’s breakout year complicates that picture.

Beyond the Cowboys, any number of corner-needy defenses should be talking to Gilmore. Detroit is in the process of overhauling its cornerbacks room, and the Minnesota Vikings could use a veteran at the position after ranking 24th against the pass last year.

Stephon Gilmore Projected to Cost Upwards of $12 Million in Free Agenc

Stephon Gilmore of the Cowboys

Gilmore, a five-time Pro Bowler, is a 12-year veteran and will play most of the upcoming season at the age of 34. But despite his age, Gilmore remained near the game’s elite level during his campaign with the Cowboys in 2023.

He was paid like it in Dallas, finishing out a two-year contract worth $20 million total at the end of last season. Spotrac projects Gilmore’s market value at $11.2 million over a new one-year deal.

As of Saturday, Minnesota had approximately $17 million in available salary cap space for the 2024 campaign.

Vikings Must Invest in Secondary Ahead of 2024 Seaso

Byron Murphy Jr

Minnesota has tried for multiple years in the draft and free agency to shore up its problems in the secondary. The Vikings selected cornerback Mekhi Blackmon with their second overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft (No. 102 in the third round) and also paid CB Byron Murphy Jr. a total of $17.5 million in free agency.

Blackmon was solid in a minimal role during his rookie campaign, starting three games and tallying 8 pass deflections, 3 tackles for loss and an interception, per Pro Football Reference. Murphy was less successful despite a solid track record with the Arizona Cardinals, finishing ranked 87th out of 127 cornerbacks who saw enough snaps at the position to qualify.

Also on the Vikings roster is Akayleb Evans, a fourth-round pick in 2022 who started alongside Murphy last season when healthy. Andrew Booth Jr., a second-round selection in 2022, played in a backup role alongside Blackmon last year but has failed to live up to his draft position. He missed 11 regular-season games as a rookie due to injury.

Gilmore should be successful under defensive coordinator Brian Flores‘ blitz-heavy scheme, which employs a variety of unique zone coverages behind it. He has been an elite-level cornerback at every stop over the course of his NFL career, which has included stints with the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Cowboys.

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