As the Minnesota Vikings head into the 2019 offseason without a ton of money to spend, some are suggesting the team part ways with their top cornerback.
Less than a year ago, Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes was preparing for his second-straight trip to the Pro Bowl after another solid season in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Rhodes’ impressive performance in 2017 also earned him a spot on the Associated Press’ All-Pro First-Team, his first ever selection to the NFL’s most elite squad.
Things were a little different for the Vikings top corner in 2018. Rhodes dealt with various nagging injuries all season long (hamstring, foot, groin) and it led to him missing two of Minnesota’s games.
His ailments likely prevented him from playing at the high level Vikings fans have become so accustomed to over the last few years as well.
In 2018, Rhodes was actually the most targeted defender on Minnesota’s defense as opposing quarterbacks tossed a pass toward the corner 69 times. Rhodes only allowed 65.2 percent of these targets to be caught by his coverage, but he was also flagged for a total of 12 penalties in 2018.
While 65.2 percent seems like a pretty decent coverage catch rate, it’s actually the highest percentage that the Minnesota cornerback has allowed in a season since entering the NFL in 2013. With this being said though, Rhodes’ allowed catch rate was still lower than a number of other top corners around the league including A.J. Bouye, Marshon Lattimore, Josh Norman, and Marcus Peters.
Is the play of the Vikings’ top cornerback something to be concerned about? Maybe, but considering that Rhodes is still going to be in a defense led by Zimmer, a turnaround in 2019 is something that should surprise no one if it were to happen.
At the very least, the performance of the Minnesota corner this past season is definitely not enough reason to place him on the trading block. Shockingly, this is actually an idea that has recently been floated out there this year by some who cover and root for the Vikings.
There is really no other way to say it than trading Rhodes this offseason would be one of the biggest mistakes Minnesota has ever made in the existence of their franchise.
Yes, he’s coming off a year that obviously wasn’t the best of his career. But Rhodes’ play in 2018 was still better than more than half of the corners in the NFL.
If the Vikings trade him away this year, then who will be their No. 1 corner in 2019? That role would likely shift to Holton Hill, Mike Hughes, or Trae Waynes, which could be the recipe for a potential disaster.
While Hill was promising during his rookie season with Minnesota, he benefited a lot from covering the opposing team’s third or fourth receivers. Tasked with covering his opponent’s top pass catcher in his just his second year in the NFL might turn out a little differently.
Hughes also had some performances during his rookie season that should have Vikings fans excited about his future with the team. However, he is coming off of a torn ACL and there is really no way of knowing how well he will play on his surgically repaired knee in 2019.
And as for Waynes, he is coming off a season that was really his first where Minnesota didn’t have to worry about him giving up too many costly plays. The Vikings giving him the responsibility of being their No. 1 corner in 2019 seems like it would be a tremendous risk.
Freeing up more cap space has been another reason to trade Rhodes for those who believe it would be a good idea. But Minnesota’s top corner isn’t really even that expensive.
Rhodes’ cap hit in 2019 is around $13.3 million, which is right around what other cornerbacks of his caliber are scheduled to earn next season as well. His cap hit is actually only the ninth-highest among NFL corners in 2019.
So before suggesting that the Vikings should trade Rhodes after he has one year where he doesn’t play like an All-Pro, maybe consider what the team’s other options are first. And for Minnesota, their best option for 2019 is to keep him on their roster.
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