As first reported by @Chiefsinsider and confirmed by Darren Wolfson, The Vikings have reached out to free agent cornerback Brandon Flowers. The New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons are also believed to have interest in the 2013 Pro Bowl corner, who was cut Friday by Kansas City.
We don’t know the Vikings’ exact level of interest in Flowers, but the fact that they would show any interest in him at all says less about Flowers and more about the Vikings’ current secondary depth. Despite an offseason spent rebuilding the NFL’s worst defensive backfield, the Vikings clearly still feel that there is more work to do.
Minnesota knew going into the offseason that they would have to almost start from scratch with their secondary. With that in mind, they quickly moved on from former starting cornerback Chris Cook, who has since signed with San Francisco.
The Vikings made the first big rebuilding move by signing cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. More minor free agent moves followed, including the acquisition of Chargers cast-off Derek Cox, and the re-signing of Marcus Sherels. The Vikes also addressed the safety position, picking up third-tier free agent Kurt Coleman, late of the Eagles.
With the free agency period over, the Vikings next turned their attention to the draft. Despite their glaring needs in the secondary, the Vikings left that area unaddressed until relatively late.
It wasn’t until the sixth round that the Vikings took their first secondary piece, selecting Antone Exum with the 182nd pick. The Vikings also selected CB Kendall James with the 184th pick, and CB Jabari Price with pick #225.
The Vikings would make one more minor pick-up after the draft, signing former Browns CB Julian Posey.
After all these moves, are the Vikings significantly better going into 2014 than they were at the end of 2013? They certainly have more options to choose from, but the majority of these are marginal veteran players and completely untested, late-round rookies.
Of all the Vikings’ DBs, only Harrison Smith and Captain Munnerlyn are relatively proven starting-quality players, and only Smith projects realistically as a potential Pro Bowler.
Xavier Rhodes has talent and he is learning, but he has frustrated his coaches at times during OTAs, and there are reasons to be concerned that he could hit a developmental wall in his second year.
Even after all the offseason movement, the Vikings have two secondary positions completely up in the air. Who will line up at safety alongside Harrison Smith? Who will hold down the other outside cornerback position when the Vikings go nickel and move Munnerlyn inside?
The Vikings looked at their cornerback options outside of the top 2 – Derek Cox, Josh Robinson, Shaun Prater, Marcus Sherels, Julian Posey, Kendall James, Jabari Price – and decided to give Brandon Flowers a call.
They made a call to a player who, despite his Pro Bowl selection in 2013, was rated last year as among the worst corners in the league by Pro Football Focus. They made a call to a player who arguably is not a good fit in Mike Zimmer’s scheme with its press-man looks.
They made a call to a player who arguably is only suited to playing the slot in Zimmer’s defense – even though they already signed a good slot corner in Captain Munnerlyn.
Why call Brandon Flowers at all? Because you looked at your depth chart and realized that you are still in some difficulty.
Despite making a concerted effort to give Mike Zimmer and his staff plenty of options to choose from in building a new secondary, it appears the Vikings still look at their defensive backfield as a significant weakness.
Improving the front-7, especially the defensive line, will help take some pressure off the back end of the defense, but you still need capable corners and safeties. Hopefully the Vikings can turn up some adequate DBs, because nobody wants to see a repeat of 2013. That defense was a disaster.