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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Countdown to free agency: If Munnerlyn, Newman don’t return, Vikings have options

By Matthew Coller

Dec 4, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan (26) celebrates a sack against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

2The next big NFL date is March 9, when the new league year begins and free agency opens. The Minnesota Vikings are expected to be active in free agency, so as we make our way toward the start of the signing period, we will go position-by-position, analyzing which free agents the Vikings could/should be interested in. We began with the quarterbacks, then went on to the running backs, then the wide receivers, the left tackles, the right tackles, the guards, the centers, the tight ends and now the cornerbacks…

What if’s…

It should come as no surprise that a Mike Zimmer-coached team has had one of the best secondaries in the NFL over the last two years, but a pair of key pieces to the defensive back group may be hitting the road as both Captain Munnerlyn and Terence Newman are Unrestricted Free Agents. The Vikings drafted their replacements in Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, though there are questions about whether either is prepared to take on a full-time assignment. If Zimmer and the front office do not feel like they are ready, the free agent market provides plenty of options.

Whether the Vikings hit the market for a cornerback is yet to be seen, but we can safely say that Minnesota won’t be paying out huge dollars to the top corners like Stephon Gilmore, AJ Bouye, or Trumaine Johnson. What about the rest of the group?

Morris Claiborne, Dallas Cowboys

Pro Football Focus rank: 12th of 112

For the first time in his career, Claiborne was living up to expectations when he got hurt. His small sample size of recent success, however, is backed by several years of disappointment after going No. 6 overall, partly because he has missed 33 games in the last five seasons due to injury. Claiborne is a high-risk, high-reward player, which doesn’t exactly fit the Vikings’ direction.

Logan Ryan, New England Patriots

Pro Football Focus rank: 16th

Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Like Mike Zimmer, Bill Belichick seems to know his cornerbacks. After two years as a role player, Ryan became New England’s No. 2 in 2015 and has been exceptional since getting the full-time gig. He has been ranked highly by PFF in both years and ranked 15th in the NFL in Yards Per Pass Allowed, according to Football Outsiders. New England’s former third-round pick has proven he is deserving of a big pay day, so the Vikings might not be able to pony up, but if he slips under the radar, Ryan would be a good candidate to play across from Xavier Rhodes.

Darius Butler, Indianapolis Colts

Pro Football Focus rank: 20th

Indianapolis may have struggled to stop the pass, but Butler had a solid year when he was healthy. Butler is experienced and versatile, even playing safety at one point in 2016. He might be exactly the type of stopgap the Vikings might need.

Prince Amukamara, Jacksonville Jaguars

Pro Football Focus rank: 42nd

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After signing a one-year deal with the Jaguars, Amukamara performed well in the No. 2 role across from top draft pick Jalen Ramsey. The former first-round pick of the New York Giants has been consistently rated mid-pack by Pro Football Focus during his career. Unless Amukamara plays the nickel role, it’s hard to see where he might fit unless the Vikings don’t believe Waynes can be a regular.

Brandon Carr, Dallas Cowboys

Pro Football Focus rank: 51st

After an up-and-down tenure with the Cowboys, the 30-year-old cornerback told reporters after Dallas’s loss to Green Bay that he’s pondering retirement. His performance in 2016 suggests that he should probably stick around. While the interceptions faded after Carr left Kansas City, he still was a solid cover corner, even after Claiborne went down and there was more pressure on him. Maybe a reduced role would intrigue the veteran corner.

Dre Kirkpatrick, Cincinnati Bengals

Pro Football Focus rank: 53rd (T)

Dec 18, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. The Steelers won 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Kirkpatrick had a very good contract year, leading many to speculate he will end up as one of the highest paid corners in free agency this year. In coverage, he allowed just 4.9 Yards Per Attempt, which ranked sixth in the NFL among starters. After some bumps in the road, it appears Kirkpatrick is just starting to come into his prime. His price might be too high for what Minnesota would be looking to pay.

Micah Hyde, Green Bay Packers

Pro Football Focus rank: 53rd (T)

While the Packers were one of the league’s worst teams against the pass, Hyde was the highest rated Green Bay defensive back by far. Solid in zone coverage and with the ability to play nickel corner or even safety, the former fifth-round pick could be attractive to the Vikings as either a starting nickel or as valuable depth.

Sterling Moore, New Orleans Saints

Pro Football Focus rank: 65th

Moore has bounced around, playing for four teams in the last six years, but has been reliable whether he’s needed in the slot or on the outside. The biggest knock on Moore is that he struggles as a tackler, leading teams to view him as more of a depth defensive back rather than a full-timer.

Jerraud Powers, Baltimore Ravens

Pro Football Focus rank: 68th

Dec 27, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) returns a fumble for a touchdown during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Powers has started 88 games over his eight year career, which he’s spent with mostly good teams in Indianapolis and Arizona. At 5-foot-9, he isn’t imposing, but is a proven cover nickel corner that would be able to fill Captain Munnerlyn’s shoes.

Here are the rest of the available cornerbacks and PFF grades:

Player PFF Pos # Team Snaps Status
Leodis McKelvin 69.5 CB 32 Eagles 586 UFA
Teddy Williams 68.0 CB 29 Panthers 49 UFA
Tramon Williams 67.3 CB 34 Browns 625 UFA
B.W. Webb 65.3 CB 27 Saints 588 UFA
Antwon Blake 62.5 CB 27 Titans 368 UFA
Chykie Brown 62.1 CB 30 Bengals 2 UFA
Chris Lewis-Harris 61.7 CB 28 Ravens 50 UFA
Corey White 61.5 CB 27 Bills 412 UFA
Blidi Wreh-Wilson 60.0 CB 27 Falcons 2 RFA
Marcus Burley 58.5 CB 27 Browns 29 RFA
Kayvon Webster 57.7 CB 26 Broncos 60 UFA
Johnthan Banks 57.4 CB 27 Bears 133 UFA
Justin Gilbert 55.0 CB 25 Steelers 12 UFA
Steve D. Williams 54.4 CB 26 Rams 218 UFA
Neiko Thorpe 53.0 CB 27 Seahawks 107 UFA
Nolan Carroll 51.7 CB 30 Eagles 912 UFA
Trevin Wade 51.5 CB 28 Giants 393 RFA
Josh Robinson 48.9 CB 26 Buccaneers 2 UFA
D.J. Hayden 48.6 CB 27 Raiders 476 UFA
Coty Sensabaugh 48.4 CB 28 Giants 257 UFA
Crezdon Butler 47.0 CB 30 Lions 19 UFA
Greg Toler 45.8 CB 32 Washington 256 UFA
Marcus Cooper 45.5 CB 27 Cardinals 827 UFA
Chris Davis 45.1 CB 26 49ers 38 RFA
Asa Jackson 43.5 CB 27 Lions 93 UFA
Chimdi Chekwa 43.4 CB 29 Dolphins 15 UFA
Robert McClain 41.9 CB 29 Chargers 327 UFA
Leonard Johnson 41.6 CB 27 Panthers 436 UFA
Sam Shields 38.3 CB 29 Packers 62 UFA

The post Countdown to free agency: If Munnerlyn, Newman don’t return, Vikings have options appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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