Judging off of their 2013 campaign, the Minnesota Vikings will be serious shoppers for a legitimate starting cornerback this offseason. They finished 31st in pass defense, giving up the most touchdowns through the air while only intercepting 12 passes in 16 games.
That’s why a veteran cornerback like Alterraun Verner makes perfect sense as a free agency target for the Vikings.
Verner stated this offseason that he wants to return to the Tennessee Titans, the team that brought him into the league back in 2010, but isn’t afraid to test the open market. If he does hit free agency, the Vikings would be wise to give his agent a call.
Last season, Verner graded out as the No. 12 cornerback in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, the Vikings’ four cornerbacks who saw significant time – Xavier Rhodes, Marcus Sherels, Chris Cook and Josh Robinson – graded out at No. 46, No. 88, No. 95, and No. 99, respectively. If bringing in Verner isn’t an upgrade for the Vikings, I’m not sure if there’s any hope in Minnesota.
In the Titans’ new press-man scheme, Verner excelled as a physical shutdown cornerback. Quarterbacks throwing into his coverage managed a measly 54.7 passer rating in 2013, bested only by Richard Sherman. He still has some work to do as a run defender, but offers boatloads of upside at 25-years-old.
The biggest obstacle standing in the way of the Vikings signing Verner is the Titans. Expected to re-sign him, Tennessee will likely go to just about any lengths to retain their budding star at cornerback. Even if the two sides can’t come to terms, the Titans will likely slap him with the franchise tag.
In a hypothetical situation where he lands in the free agency pool, though, the Vikings will be serious players for his services. They’ve been attempting to get by with a suspect secondary for years, but new head coach Mike Zimmer isn’t about to let his defense go without significant upgrades this offseason.
We’ll see what happens leading up to the beginning of free agency on March 11. If the Titans slip up, though, look for the Vikings to be on Verner’s doorstep that day.