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Vikings 2022 Free Agency Outlook: Cornerbacks & Safeties

EAGAN, Minn. — The NFL's New League Year is on the horizon.

It officially begins at 3 p.m. (CT) on March 16, which means the 2022 edition of free agency is also quickly approaching. is providing a position-by-position outlook of Minnesota's roster ahead of free agency. We started with quarterbacks on Monday and continued Tuesday with running backs and receivers. On Wednesday, we covered offensive linemen and tight ends. Thursday brought a look at the defensive line, and Friday offered a look at linebackers.

Here's a look at which Vikings are scheduled to become free agents, Minnesota's potential needs and notes on players from other teams that are set to become free agents.


Kris Boyd, Cameron Dantzler, Harrison Hand and Parry Nickerson

The Vikings ended the 2021 season with eight cornerbacks on the team, but only the four above aren't slated to become free agents.

Dantzler is the most experienced player of this group with 25 games and 17 total starts, but his two seasons of play highlight the lack of veteran experience currently on the roster.

Boyd has primarily played on special teams since he was a 2019 seventh-round pick, but he has started six games on defense in that span.

And it's not as if Nickerson (three starts elsewhere) and Hand (one start) haven't played at all, but they have mostly been depth players in their time in the league.


Patrick Peterson (unrestricted free agent)

Peterson welcomed a change of scenery in 2021 as he transitioned to Minnesota after a decade in Arizona. The 31-year-old was solid in his first season in Purple, starting 13 games and recording an interception that he returned for a score in the season finale.

Peterson did miss four total games — three due to a hamstring injury and one due to COVID-19 — but brought needed leadership and accountability to that group.

View the best photos of Vikings CB Patrick Peterson from the 2021 season.

Mackensie Alexander (unrestricted free agent)

Alexander, a Vikings 2016 second-round pick, returned to Minnesota on a 1-year deal after spending a season with Cincinnati.

He started five games and played 690 total snaps as Minnesota's nickel cornerback, but struggled at times last season, much like the entire defense did as a whole.


Bryan Mills

Mills joined the Vikings practice squad in the final week of the 2021 season, and he was elevated to the active roster for the season finale. He made his NFL debut in Week 18 by playing one snap on special teams.

Tye Smith

Smith signed with Minnesota in June and was expected to provide depth in the secondary. He would up on the practice squad and played in five total games in 2021, registering just 17 total snaps on defense.

The 28-year-old has started seven games in his NFL career.

View the best cornerback photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.


Make no mistake about it, cornerback might be the Vikings most pressing need heading into free agency, simply because of the lack of numbers at that spot on the roster.

And if the pending free agents above don't return — notably Peterson and Alexander — then Minnesota's experience at the position will take a hit.

Time will tell if Peterson, a captain in 2021, returns to Minnesota. But even if he does, the Vikings might be active in both free agency and the draft in terms of adding cornerbacks, simply because they don't have enough of them on their current roster.

WHO'S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE?'s Gregg Rosenthal recently released his list of the top 101 potential free agents.

The following cornerbacks are listed in order of their overall rankings: 2. J.C. Jackson, 4. Carlton Davis, 13. Stephon Gilmore, 38. D.J. Reed, 40. Darious Williams, 48. Rasul Douglas, 49. Bryce Callahan, 61. Casey Heyward, 66. Donte Jackson, 75. Peterson, 83. Charvarius Ward, 86. Kevin King and 95. Joe Haden.

Jackson and Davis lead this group of 13 corners, and both players will likely be paid handsomely due to their strong skill set hitting the open market.

There is plenty of talent and experience below that group, too, beginning with Gilmore, who is still capable although he's likely not the league's top cornerback anymore.

The Vikings know a few players on the back half of this list well, as Callahan and King resided in the NFC North in recent seasons.

And Peterson's ranking at No. 83 shows that the 11-season veteran will likely have options, as he showed in 2021 that he can stay play at a high level.


Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, Josh Metellus, Myles Dorn

Smith headlines this group, just as he has for the past 10 seasons in Minnesota. The six-time Pro Bowler still remains one of the game's best safeties, and he could help lead the transition to a new defensive scheme in 2022.

Bynum, a 2021 fourth-round pick, flashed in three starts by nabbing an interception and a sack, plus recording three passes defensed as a rookie. Depending on how the roster shakes out, the 23-year-old could compete for a starting spot in his second season.

Metellus (298 snaps) and Dorn (140) were heavily involved on special teams in 2021. The young players could provide the same — depth at safety and special-teams ability — in 2022.

View the best photos of Vikings S Harrison Smith from the 2021 season.


Xavier Woods (unrestricted free agent)

Woods bounced back in a positive way in 2021 after signing a 1-year deal with Minnesota. He said his 2020 season in Dallas was a disappointment, but he showed more consistency and playmaking ability with the Vikings.

Woods started all 17 games and was the only defensive player to stay on the field for all 1,208 snaps last season. He also recorded three interceptions and a sack.

Much like Peterson and Alexander above, Woods bet on himself with a 1-year deal last offseason. Now we'll see what sort of market he has after a solid season in Minnesota.


Smith and Woods were Minnesota's starters in 2021, and that likely wouldn't change if both are in the roster again going forward.

But if Woods ends up somewhere else in free agency, then perhaps Bynum steps into the role.

There's also a chance that the Vikings front office looks to bring in a veteran free agent at this spot, and the possibility of adding a safety in the draft is always an option, too.

View the best safety photos from the 2021 season shot by Vikings photographers.

WHO'S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE?'s Gregg Rosenthal recently released his list of the top 101 potential free agents.

The following safeties are listed in order of their overall rankings: 6. Tyrann Mathieu, 7. Marcus Williams, 30. Quandre Diggs, 32. Marcus Maye, 53. DeShon Elliott, 57. Justin Reid, 60. Jordan Whitehead, 65. Jayron Kearse, 80. Tracy Walker, 81. Devin McCourty and 85. Xavier Woods.

Teams looking for safety help have plenty of options here, including high-end talent in Mathieu and Williams. (Jessie Bates was ranked even higher by Rosenthal initially but was removed after he was given the franchise tag by the Bengals).

The next tier of safeties, including Diggs and Maye, dealt with injuries in 2021 so their health status is important to note. Whitehead helped Tampa Bay win Super Bowl LV. Kearse, a 2016 seventh-round pick by the Vikings, has spent the past two seasons with the Lions and Cowboys.

The 34-year-old McCourty is the veteran of the group with 188 starts and three total Super Bowl rings in his career.