Free Agency Watch: The Cornerback Situation


The Vikings‘ cornerback situation went from manageable to iffy with one pop of Cedric Griffin‘s ACL.

With Griffin expected to be out until at least training camp and possibly not until well into the 2010 season, the Vikings figured to lean more heavily than ever on Benny Sapp, who was elevated to starter last season after Antoine Winfield‘s foot injury and did a decent job.

Unfortunately, Sapp may not even be around to fill in for Cedric.  He is one of the Vikings’ handful of unrestricted free agents, and according to reports, he intends to test the market.

Even if the Vikings do flash enough cash to keep Sapp in the fold, cornerback will remain a position of concern.  Any promotion of Sapp to the starting role leaves you with a serious lack of depth at the position – especially now that you’ve given Karl Paymah his walking paypahs – plus, no one knows if Winfield will ever be able to recover his previous Pro Bowl form coming off the injury that hampered him throughout the second half of ’09.

In other words, the Vikings could be in the market for a cornerback once free agency begins.

The top free agent corner is Leigh Bodden of the Patriots.  Unfortunately, he would come at a high cost, and is not generally seen as a good fit in the sort of zone defense the Vikings prefer to employ.  So strike him off the wishlist.

Dunta Robinson of the Texans is generally regarded as the second best UFA corner after Bodden, but many see him as overrated.  On the restricted free agent side, there’s Carlos Rogers of the Redskins, who received a 1st round tender from the team and is therefore not an option.

After that come some restricted free agents like Ellis Hobbs and Brent Grimes, both of whom are seen as nickelback options at best.  One other restricted free agent possibility is Richard Marshall of the Panthers, who has received a 2nd round tender from the team and will therefore likely not be moving.

None of the guys listed above, nor many of the guys further down the list, present ideal possibilities for the Vikings in upgrading at corner.  Their best hope is that Cedric heals quickly, Sapp can be retained and Winfield can get back to being Winfield.

Counting on your own guys isn’t as sexy as drooling over other people’s guys, but it’s often more sensible.