Cardinals urged to sign free agent CB Mackensie Alexander

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Steve Keim looks on during a game in 2021.

It appears the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings have a recent history of picking up each other’s remains.

The Vikings signed former 2021 Cardinals All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson and former veteran Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks on March 15, 2022. Arizona signed Vikings 2020 first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney on a two-year contract but was killed in a car accident at the end of May.

Arizona left the mandatory minicamp with nine cornerbacks on its roster and still has questions about its squad. The Cardinals signed cornerback Josh Jackson after day two of minicamp and will face Marco Wilson, Byron Murphy Jr., Antonio Hamilton and Jace Whittaker as well as seventh-round pick Christian Matthew, Breon Borders, Nate Brooks and Darrell Baker Jr. .

Bleacher Report NFL analyst Ian Wharton wrote a list that ranked the “best unsigned free agents under 30.” Wharton has also listed the teams that could be suitable for each respective player.

Former Vikings cornerback and free agent Mackensie Alexander was mentioned as a defenseman the Cardinals should pursue.

(Alexander) is a reliable slot corner who has spent all but one season of his six-year career with the Minnesota Vikings. The NFL has generally not liked slot defenders because it has boundary wedges, which could explain why Alexander is still available.

Never known for producing turnovers, having posted just three interceptions and 32 pass breakups in 84 games, Alexander excels more in the zone than in man assignments. Its 5’10”, 192-pound frame is strong and responsive, and it competes hard in the racing game. There is always room for an experienced and competitive defender in the NFL.

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Alexander had a difficult 2021 season

Wharton mentioned Alexander PFF rating of 40.2 during the 2021 season. Alexander wasn’t the only Vikings cornerback struggling. Bashaud Breeland, who will sign with the Cardinals later in the season, ranked 123rd out of 129 contributing cornerbacks with a 47.2 PFF defensive rating. Peterson ranked 63rd last season and posted a 63.0 PFF defensive rating.

However, Alexander, who worked as the team’s lead cornerback, gave up for 707 yards, four touchdowns and a 117.4 passer rating against opposing quarterbacks. He also allowed a career-high 385 yards after the catch.

The Vikings were also lacking a passing rush in 2021, which was alluded to by Wharton. Getting away from then-coach Mike Zimmer could help Alexander. Arizona operates a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, which the Vikings are also transitioning to in 2022.

What Alexander could bring

If the Cardinals were to sign Alexander, there is no guarantee the old second round would start. Murphy functions as the team’s slot corner with Wilson on the outside.

Alexander has been readily available throughout his career. In Alexander’s six years in the league, he has played at least 13 games and has 25 starts to his name. If Murphy were to fall, Alexander would replace him.

He signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract to return to Minnesota last season after playing with the Bengals in 2020. Alexander is likely to get a similar amount as the 28-year-old is still available on the open market.

The addition of Alexander would simply be seen as a depth signing for the Cardinals.

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