ESPN Tabs Free Agent CB as a “Must-Sign” Player for the Vikings

NFL: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals
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The Minnesota Vikings are in serious need of depth in their secondary with both Patrick Peterson and Duke Shelley set to hit free agency this offseason. They could look to draft a top CB this spring, but via ESPN, Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz has tabbed a free agent CB as a must-sign player for the Vikings when free agency officially begins a week from today.

That free agent is CB Jonathan Jones, who played with the New England Patriots in 2022. Here is what Schatz had to say regarding the Vikings potentially signing Jones:

Three of Minnesota’s top four cornerbacks in snap count are now free agents, so they are going to need some additions to the secondary. Last year’s second-round pick, Andrew Booth Jr., is probably ready to join the starting lineup across from Cameron Dantzler, but that leaves the slot.

Jones is an excellent veteran addition who has excelled in the slot but also played well outside last season. He ranked 17th among qualifying cornerbacks in coverage success rate.

The cornerback was an undrafted find by Bill Belichick, and since then, the 29-year-old has grown into one of the more consistent defenders in the NFL during recent years.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
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The Vikings certainly could use a versatile CB to help in their starting lineup, and Jones has been that type of player throughout his NFL career. The Patriots free agent has spent all seven of his NFL seasons in New England, and in 2022, he had a breakout season, recording 4 interceptions (including a pick-six) along with 11 passes defensed and 3 forced fumbles.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
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Jones also has experience with new Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores as well. Flores was a defensive coach in New England for each of the cornerback’s first three seasons from 2016-18. This connection could be another reason that would draw Jones to Minnesota.

Currently, Spotrac estimates that Jones carries a contract value on the open market worth two years and $24,928,071. Meanwhile, Over the Cap believes that Jones’ play from 2022 should be valued at $8,740,000. So, it seems safe to say that his next contract will be worth an annual value in the range of $9-13 million.

Free Agent CB
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This is certainly a pretty penny to pay the cornerback, but once the Vikings complete all their moves to become cap compliant this offseason, it should be doable if Minnesota wants him.

As of now, the Vikings have five cornerbacks on their roster: Kalon Barnes, Andrew Booth, Cam Dantzler, Akayleb Evans, and Tay Gowan. Booth, Dantzler, and Evans could all be starters next season, but the Vikings probably don’t want any of these options as their primary cornerbacks in the secondary.

This offseason, the free agent class is loaded with cornerback talent, so it would be unsurprising to see Minnesota be connected to a couple different targets. Perhaps Jones could be one of them.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.