The Minnesota Vikings cannot pamper everybody — evidently — as two NFL entities question the efficacy of Patrick Peterson’s addition to the team.
Peterson, 30, joined the Vikings on St. Patrick’s Day as the team’s splashiest free-agent move to date in 2021. Minnesota did sign defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson earlier in the week, but Peterson’s name recognition outshines the 26-year-old Tomlinson.
The Tomlinson move was greeted with befuddlement by many because the former New York Giant played nose tackle in The Big Apple. The Vikings don’t need a nose tackle. The franchise signed Michael Pierce for those duties in 2020. Pierce missed all of 2020 due to coronavirus fears and should be back fully back for this season.
Instead, Tomlinson will play the 3-technique defensive tackle position — a spot in the defense that the Vikings have not overly emphasized during head coach Mike Zimmer’s tenure.
That gloss-over ends in 2021.
Tomlinson was signed to stop the run and collapse the pocket — neither item was a routine occurrence for the Viking amid the pandemic season.
Minnesota also put a priority on defensive secondary repair with the Peterson move. The eight-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro corner will inject the Vikings cornerback room with wisdom and experience — at a $10 million price tag.
Unsurprisingly, some NFL entities are chiding the transaction.
USA Today = D
That is the grade — a ‘D.’ As in, once notch above an ‘F.’
Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire (via USA Today) says of the deal:
“At age 30 (he’ll turn 31 in July), Peterson isn’t going to make a ton of plays anymore by matching the league’s best receivers through every nuance of their routes. But he does still bring minimal value as a guy who knows how to read quarterbacks, has an excellent sense of where the ball is going, and gets there to create incompletions and interceptions at times. The Vikings just have to understand the value of his adaptive strategies, and will need to work around the skills that have eroded over time. This with the aforementioned duo of 2020 rookies in Dantzler and Gladney who combined to allow 11 touchdowns to two interceptions last season. Minnesota’s secondary, which has been quite hospitable to opponents in the last few seasons, could be just that once again.“
Farrar does not endorse the camp that feels Zimmer can revitalize Peterson. Zimmer did just that for Terence Newman years back [there are others, too], so Peterson’s prognosis for rejuvenation seems doable — despite Farrar’s pessimism.
All in all, though, a D is a vicious grade for the move.
PFF = “Average”
Pro Football Focus was a bit kinder, but the NFL-grading outfit still viewed the move as underwhelming. Their sentiments did not quite stoop to Farrar’s level of indictment, but the implication of Peterson-to-Minnesota is lukewarm.
PFF musings on the transaction:
“Peterson will join a young cornerback group that features Mike Hughes along with 2020 draft selections Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney. This isn’t great value for Minnesota considering Peterson’s dip in play of late, but the hope will be that a change in scenery helps brings out the player who allowed fewer than 400 yards into his coverage in each of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.“
So far, the acquisition of Peterson via two analyses is not glowing.
Zimmer Probably Knows What He’s Doing
The Vikings leader, Zimmer, is borne of a defensive-secondary background. It is unlikely that he and general manager Rick Spielman signed Peterson without having a battle-ready plan for his services. The team may start him at CB during Week 1 or move him to free safety — the Vikings are currently deficient at the spot (FS).
In all likelihood, Peterson will be used at cornerback and serve as an elder statesman to the aforementioned Dantzler and Gladney.
That alone might be worth the $10 million in the long run.
The Vikings ranked 29th in the NFL for points allowed last season. Spielman theoretically could kick back, watch his perennially talented players return to health, and hope for the best. That might even be “enough” to do the trick.
But nailing free-agent signings like Tomlinson and Peterson vivify that Spielman is not relying on chance.