Does surprise Pro Bowl selection increase trade value for Xavier Rhodes?

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Xavier Rhodes
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) Xavier Rhodes /

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes’ surprise selection to the Pro Bowl could see his trade value increase as speculation mounts about his future.

The one-time Minnesota Vikings standout, Xavier Rhodes, endured arguably the worst season of his career in 2019, which has left his long-term place with the franchise up in the air heading into the offseason.

Despite this, he was named as a replacement for this year’s Pro Bowl on Sunday alongside fellow teammates Kirk Cousins, C.J. Ham, Everson Griffen, and All-Pro Eric Kendricks, an announcement that was met with surprise by most who had seen Rhodes play this season.

The former first-round pick out of Florida State has suffered a tremendous fall from grace over the last two campaigns, seeing his production and overall influence decrease considerably thanks to a series of lackluster displays.

This has seen opposing teams specifically target Rhodes as a weak link when they come up against the Vikings vaunted defense, something that was inconceivable once upon a time.

Rhodes’ 2017 season was a masterclass in man coverage. It elevated him to an elite level and he was regarded as arguably the best player at his position in the NFL.

He guarded the very best in the business throughout the season with confidence, restricting the likes of Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, and Mike Evans when they were at the peak of their powers.

This high level of consistency seems light-years away at the present time, and it is clear that Rhodes’ fading powers are not only frustrating him, but also the others around him who are used to better production.

A number of sideline outbursts as a result of either a blown coverage or inability to cover a route were evident on multiple occasions this season and Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer also publicly called Rhodes out for his significant drop-off that has cost his squad at vital moments.

He totaled 73 percent of the team’s snaps this season, which is Rhodes’ lowest since his rookie year and it further highlighted the lack of confidence Zimmer had in the corner to get over his slump on his way to a lowly final ranking of 46.4 by Pro Football Focus.

Rhodes did show signs of life in Minnesota’s playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints despite giving up another big play, with his crucial third-down stop to prevent Drew Brees finding Michael Thomas a notable moment, as was his desire to play through an injury.

With Rhodes’ cap hit set at $12.9 million for 2020, it seems unlikely that he will be around by the time the new season kicks off in September.

Whether he is released this offseason remains to be seen, but his Pro Bowl selection could possibly entice some teams looking for help at the position to make a trade offer.

Given that teams will be fully aware of Rhodes’ struggles and the fact they might be able to pick him up off waivers or in free agency following a possible release, there are unlikely to be any jaw-dropping offers for a player who is still owed over $20 million on the final two years of his deal following the 2020 campaign.

A Pro Bowl selection as a replacement is not going to change this, and as the old saying goes, the film does not lie.

This leaves Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman with a critical decision to make regarding Rhodes’ future with the Vikings, who is another player they rewarded for a good year and are now paying for it in the long-term.

Rhodes cannot stay around on his current contract given Minnesota’s salary cap constraints and a release seems more likely than a restructure.

One thing that could work in Rhodes’ favor if he wants to stay is the lack of options for the Vikings at corner for 2020, with Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes heading to free agency and Mike Hughes’ injury struggles becoming an increasing cause for concern.

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Given how much investment Minnesota has made at the position with their high-end draft picks in recent years, they would have expected better and that also goes for the man once touted as the next great NFL shutdown cornerback.