6 cornerbacks Vikings should target after Brian Flores hire

The Minnesota Vikings have themselves a new defensive coordinator in Brian Flores.

With the hire of Flores, the Vikings have committed to another scheme change, as he runs a significantly more aggressive defense than what Ed Donatell brought in with Vic Fangio’s system.

The defense right now is one that needs a lot of work and the biggest need is at cornerback. Flores requires his corners to play a lot of man coverage and that is something that the Vikings will need to prioritize bringing in players that will be better in man coverage.

Here are six cornerbacks that the Vikings should target with projected contract numbers from Over The Cap.

Marcus Peters

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Over The Cap evaluation: $3.06 million

The Vikings need for man-coverage cornerbacks is heavy this year and there hasn’t been many cornerbacks better over the last few years than Peters. He has excellent ball skills and that shows with his 35 interceptions and 59 passes defended per Pro Football Focus.

Last season, his ball production was down but he also played the least amount of snaps in his career with only 791. While his OTC evaluation is slightly over $3 million, he probably commands a higher price than that, which might be worth it.

Jonathan Jones

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Over The Cap evaluation: $8.74 million

Jones has been a successful cornerback that has played exclusively in the same system that Flores runs. Having spent all seven seasons with the Patriots, Jones had his best season of ball production in 2022 with four interceptions and five passes broken up per Pro Football Focus.

He will likely cost a little more than Peters does, especially when you consider the OTC evaluation, but Jones worked under Flores from 2016-2018 so the familiarity is there.

Eric Rowe

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Over The Cap evaluation: $876,000

Rowe has played in the National Football League for eight seasons and has played for Flores in six of them. Drafted as a cornerback, Rowe has seen most of his success playing in a slot/safety hybrid role. That is something that Flores uses really well, as it helps him maximize his three safety nickel looks. Likely to be super cheap, Rowe would be the guy to come in and help Flores install the defense and play a versatile role.

Nik Needham

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Over The Cap evaluation: $1.40 million

Needham was signed as an undrafted free agent out of UTEP by Flores in 2019. He worked his way up to being a starting cornerback this past season for the Dolphins before tearing his left Achilles tendon against the Vikings in week six. He is decent with the ball in his air, having six interceptions and 15 passes broken up per Pro Football Focus.

In a similar vein to Rowe, Needham would provide depth in the secondary while being able to help install the defense in year one. The one hurdle is that Achilles injury. How severe is it?

Byron Murphy

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Over The Cap evaluation: $1.84 million

Murphy has had an up-and-down career with the Cardinals, as a back injury likely ended his tenure in Arizona at the end of the year. What he does provide is a physical man coverage cornerback with the versatility to play inside. He has five interceptions and 25 passes broken up per Pro Football Focus, but he’s allowed a staggeringly-high 67.8% completion rate. At the right price, Murphy is worth betting on.

Byron Jones

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Over The Cap cap hit: $14.1 million

This will be an interesting one. Jones is currently on the Dolphins’ roster and would incur a $14.804 million dead cap charge, but he missed the entire 2022 season due to injury and the Dolphins might want to move on from him. If they do, he was the player that Flores targeted for his defense and he paired Jones with Xavien Howard. The Vikings would have to do a restructure if they trade for him, but might be able to get him at a discount if he becomes a free agent.

During his two years playing for Flores, Jones showed some struggles but played well at the same time. His size and skill set is perfect for what Flores likes to do.

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Story originally appeared on Vikings Wire