Vikings should call Richard Sherman before it’s too late
Richard Sherman is currently on a plane bound for Tampa Bay to visit the Buccaneers. Yes, those buccaneers. The Buccaneers who won the Super Bowl last year. The Buccaneers who have Tom Brady as quarterback. The Buccaneers who never seem to be happy with their current roster. These buccaneers. All it took was a setback from their cornerback depth, and management at Bruce Arians and Tampa Bay were ready to reach out to the former All-Pro.
When the Minnesota Vikings embarked on a defensive spending spree in March, they didn’t think high school would be a problem. The signing of Patrick Peterson gave them a future Hall of Fame. The addition of Bashaud Breeland gave them someone who started in a Super Bowl. Mackensie Alexander knew about Mike Zimmer’s plan. Everything looked good.
But after three games, the Vikings cornerbacks were a problem. Minnesota ranks fourth in the NFL with 8.3 net yards allowed per attempt and 24th in the Football Outsiders DVOA metric against the pass.
So why can’t the Vikings act like the Buccaneers?
Sherman is coming out of a calf strain and had an incident of domestic violence last offseason, but he remains one of the greatest closed cornerbacks in NFL history. Even though he’s 70 percent of himself, he could help improve the Vikings’ leaky high school and give Minnesota the chance to play the style of football Zimmer wants to play.
This was not the case with Peterson and Breeland as the starting cornerbacks. Peterson’s war on Pro Football Focus was documented on his All Things Covered podcast, but the truth is he wasn’t the All-Pro-caliber player he was with Arizona.
The quarterbacks enjoy a 157.9 passer rating when targeting Peterson this season, and he’s more like the player who has declined in the past two years.
The Vikings would love to give Peterson an extra helping hand, but Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods are usually busy keeping Breeland on the other side. PFF has Breeland ranked last of 103 qualifying cornerbacks this season, and after allowing 103 yards and a touchdown on nine targets last Sunday, the need for an upgrade is clear.
The problem is, the Vikings don’t have anyone worthy of the job. Zimmer would rather tear his eye out than watch Cameron Dantzler play in the corner right now, and the duo of Kris Boyd and Harrison Hand are better reserved for special teams.
At 33, Sherman still has the ability to be a good corner. Last season with the San Francisco 49ers, he placed 11th among qualifying cornerbacks with a 69.6 passer rating when targeted, according to Pro Football Focus. He was even better in 2019, when he awarded a 45.3 passer rating and placed fourth among qualifiers.
Sherman also brings a physical element that Peterson and Breeland don’t have. In 10 seasons, Sherman’s missed tackle percentage has ended at over 10% just three times. With Breeland leading the league with nine missed tackles, Sherman could at least keep the game in front of him, which could eliminate some of the big plays the defense has allowed this season.
Like every addition, the Vikings have to factor in the financial cost, but they have $ 4.2 million of ceiling space, according to Over The Cap. That should be enough to land Sherman on an unsecured deal, which could serve as an upgrade without breaking the bank.
If the Vikings really want to fight in the NFC, like the Bucs, this is a call they have to make. And they should do it before he walks into the Tampa building tomorrow. Sherman comes with some worries, but if he’s got a straight head he’s got the chance to save Minnesota high school.