EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Sunday announced the signing of Bene’ Benwikere (ben-ay ben-WICK-urr-rhee) after trying out the free agent cornerback.
Benwikere has made 22 starts in 54 career regular-season games, totaling three interceptions and three forced fumbles. He also played in two playoff games after his rookie 2014 season.
Here are five things to know about the 27-year-old:
1. So far in the pros
Benwikere began his career as a fifth-round pick (148th overall) by Carolina in the 2014 NFL Draft. Ironically, the selection was originally held by Minnesota and traded to Carolina for a fifth-round pick (also traded by the Vikings) and seventh-round choice (used to select Jabari Price).
Benwikere started 14 of the 27 regular-season games he played for the Panthers but was released in October 2016. He then spent time with Miami and signed with Green Bay’s practice squad in 2017.
The following month, Benwikere signed with Cincinnati, but the Bengals traded him to the Cowboys at the start of the 2017 season.
Benwikere played in 12 games for Dallas before signing with Arizona in March 2018. He started eight of 11 games played for the Cardinals, including at Minnesota in Week 6. After he was released in November, Benwikere finished the 2018 campaign with the Raiders.
All told, Benwikere has played against the Vikings three times (2014 and 2016 with Carolina, 2018 with Arizona).
2. Dear Diary
Back in 2014, when Benwikere was a prospect coming out of San Jose State, he participated in a “Draft Diary” series with USA TODAY.
Benwikere detailed to Tom Pelissero, who is now with NFL Network, the workouts he was doing with former NFL defensive back Matt Ware and his pre-draft thoughts.
Benwikere tied the Spartans records for career interceptions (14), consecutive games with an interception (4) and interceptions in one game (3) while starting 30 of 47 games in college. He totaled 214 tackles (127 solo), 11.5 tackles for loss and 22 passes defended.
3. California corner
Benwikere, who grew up in Los Angeles, became a cornerback in high school at Junipero Serra because the Cavaliers receiving corps was loaded with future NFLers Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Paul Richardson. George Farmer, who played two games with Seattle in 2016, also was a receiver on the team.
The transition worked, with Benwikere garnering CalHi First-Team All-State honors and Serra claiming a 2009 state title.
4. Father is Nigerian
Benwikere’s father, Bene’ Sr., immigrated to the United States from Nigeria to play soccer at Central Oklahoma.
Benwikere is the sixth player on the Vikings roster who is of Nigerian heritage, joining Ifeadi and Tito Odenigbo, Ade Aruna, Bisi Johnson and Olisaemeka Udoh.
5. Football runs in the family
Benwikere is a cousin of Chris Owens, who also played at San Jose State before he became a third-round pick by the Falcons in 2009.
Owens appeared in 87 total games from 2009-15 with Atlanta (59), Cleveland (12), Miami (1), Kansas City (11) and New Orleans (4). Owens was with Detroit for part of 2015 but did not play for the Lions.