Rick Spielman Says Captain Munnerlyn Was Signed to Play Nickel Corner


Even Captain Munnerlyn admits that he did not have a particularly good year in 2014. If you believe comments made by Rick Spielman today, part of the problem was that Munnerlyn was forced into a role the team never intended him fill.

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Spielman conducted a wide-ranging chat with the media on Wednesday and among the topics addressed was Munnerlyn and his underwhelming 2014 performance. Rick offered up this perhaps surprising nugget of information when discussing the cornerback:

The Vikings gave Munnerlyn a three-year deal worth $11.2 million before the season, and if you believe Spielman, the intention was for him to only play as the nickel corner. As it turned out, Munnerlyn played against both outside receivers and slot men as the full-time left cornerback. And pretty much sucked.

If you believe Spielman’s version of things, the Vikings originally had someone else in mind as the LCB in the base defense. Who that person may have been is anyone’s guess.

Josh Robinson received the third-most snaps among the Vikings’ corners, lining up on the outside with Munnerlyn moving to the slot in nickel packages. In that role, Robinson showed some improvement over last year but still struggled vs. big, physical receivers.

The Vikings did have some other options in training camp including veterans Derek Cox and Julian Posey, and rookies Kendall James and Jabari Price. They ended up cutting Cox, Posey and James before the season, and surely the rookie Price was never looked at as a legitimate starting option.

If Spielman is being truthful, we must assume that the plan was to line up either Robinson or someone like Cox or Posey in the base opposite Xavier Rhodes with Munnerlyn being used exclusively in the nickel. Somewhere along the way, something happened that convinced Mike Zimmer those other guys couldn’t get the job done and their only choice was to elevate Munnerlyn to full-time starter.

At the time of Munnerlyn’s signing however, no indication was given that Munnerlyn was targeted to be anything but a full-time starter. Is Rick Spielman engaging in a little revisionist history here?

If it’s true that Munnerlyn was only intended to be a nickel corner, then the Vikings must now be looking to address the cornerback position in free agency or the draft.

Josh Robinson has proven himself valuable but ultimately his size limits his effectiveness and he would be better served as a backup. The Vikings’ best move would be to pick up a bigger corner to handle outside duties while moving Munnerlyn to the slot on a full-time basis.

Perhaps if he concentrates on the slot 100% of the time in practice, Munnerlyn can get past some of the issues that plagued him throughout 2014 and actually earn the money he’s getting. For that to happen he’ll have to start listening to his coaches, something he admits he struggled with during his disappointing first year in purple.