The release, and failed attempt to retain, Antoine Winfield leaves the Minnesota Vikings without an important veteran leader as well as their best and most experienced cornerback.
Cornerback will be a high priority for the Vikings early in next week’s draft, but it’s possible they have not ruled out adding a veteran to the mix as well. Multiple sources reported on Thursday that the Vikings had Jacob Lacey in for a visit, but a signing was not announced and he presumably left town without a deal.
Lacey is a veteran of four NFL seasons, with the Indianapolis Colts (2009-2011) and the Detroit Lions (2012), appearing in 54 games (36 starts) with six interceptions, 25 pass breakups and three forced fumbles to his credit. He missed the final two games last season with Detroit due to a subluxation of his left knee cap, and also missed games prior to that due to concussion and foot issues.
Lacey will turn 26 at the end of May, so he is the type of young, inexpensive free agent that Vikings general manager Rick Spielman tends to favor. He is not an elite player, finishing 63rd in Pro Football Focus.com’s cornerback rankings for 2012, but all indications are he was playing well prior to his knee injury as Detroit’s primary slot corner. Winfield was very effective playing out of the slot during his time with the Vikings, so Lacey could get an opportunity to replace him in that role and would be a solid fit even if he is not as talented.
It’s a fair assumption that the Vikings will now wait until after the draft to add a veteran at any position, but their need for depth at cornerback could still make Lacey a viable option even if one or two rookies are added.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.