4 Vikings players set for a smaller role in the 2021 season

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Chad Beebe
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Chad Beebe /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Jeff Gladney /

Jeff Gladney – CB

There has not been any news on Jeff Gladney‘s standing with the NFL or with the Vikings after his arrest earlier this offseason, but the team has made moves that indicate he may not be part of the plan.

After a year apart, Minnesota reunited with cornerback Mackensie Alexander to bring experience to the slot, the same spot that Gladney played during his rookie season. Alexander has played plenty of snaps out of the slot and he had a strong season with the Cincinnati Bengals a year ago.

Alexander started 10 games and recorded an interception in his only season with Cincinnati before signing a deal with the team that drafted him. He was sorely missed once he left Mike Zimmer’s defense, so his return is massive.

Alexander should step in as the starting nickel corner right away as Minnesota sorts through the Gladney situation. The only concern with Alexander so far has been his injury history, as he has never played a full season in the NFL. He played in 13 games in each of the last two years, so relying on him every week may be a tough ask.

For the Vikings, Gladney could still crack the roster and earn some reps when Alexander is off the field. If he makes the roster, they have a high-upside slot corner ready to come in and contribute. However, Gladney very well could get cut before the season or end up on the league’s exempt list.

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Bashaud Breeland could also move into the slot with Cameron Dantzler stepping in on the outside if things get tricky next season. Either way, the Vikings have a new secondary, and last year’s contributors may not even need to see the field on defense. That’s a good sign for a team with so many defensive woes last season.