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Lunchbreak: 'The Athletic' Assesses Vikings Addition of Xavier Woods

View photos of new Vikings S Xavier Woods who recently joined the team.

The Vikings added an important piece to their secondary Monday morning as Minnesota announced it has agreed to terms with safety Xavier Woods.

Count Chad Graff of The Athletic as a fan of the move, writing that Woods fits "very well" into the Vikings plan at safety.

For starters, the Vikings had a massive need at safety. Anthony Harris signed with the Philadelphia Eagles last week, and the Vikings hadn't yet filled the hole he left behind. They already boast one of the best safeties in the league in Harrison Smith, but they still needed a free safety to play a deep zone — ideally one who can ball-hawk the way Harris did.

The 25-year-old Woods checks both boxes. He has been a starter with the Dallas Cowboys the last three seasons after being drafted in the sixth-round in 2017. He excelled in 2018 and 2019 but took a slight step back in 2020, part of why the Vikings were able to afford him.

Woods becomes the presumptive starter opposite Smith as soon as the ink on his contract dries. The Vikings had little else in terms of depth at the position.

A sixth-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2017, Woods has started 48 of 60 games in the past four seasons. In that time, he's totaled 243 tackles (league stats), five interceptions, four tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, 18 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. The 2020 season marked Woods' first without a pick.

Woods is the latest solid addition to the Vikings defense this offseason, a list that includes cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and defensive end Stephen Weatherly.

Graff noted that the Vikings defense should be better than it was in 2020, when Minnesota ranked 27th with 393.3 yards allowed per game. The Vikings were also 29th at 29.7 points allowed per game.

He wrote:

Have the Vikings done enough on defense to complement what was a top-10 offense last year? We'll see. The defense is certainly going to be much better and closer to what has been expected in Minnesota under Zimmer.

The concerns about a lack of talent in the secondary should be put to rest. Peterson, Alexander and Woods inject a lot of depth and playmaking ability to the back half of the defense. Tomlinson helps improve their dismal run defense. A healthy [Anthony] Barr and Danielle Hunter would go a long way. Given all of that, the Vikings playoff hopes seem to have improved. But whether that's enough to knock the Packers from the top of the division remains to be seen.

All of Minnesota's offseason moves can be found here.

Looking at's top remaining free agents

On March 15 — the Monday before free agency officially began — Woods came in at No. 64 on's Gregg Rosenthal's list of the top 101 potential free agents.

That list has been whittled down over the past two weeks as players and teams have agreed to deals, with only 22 players remaining as of Monday morning.

Cornerbacks and defensive ends/edge rushers represent the most available players left with four apiece. Jadeveon Clowney is in the No. 7 spot on Rosenthal's list, while Richard Sherman at a position-high 51st spot.

There are also three veteran offensive tackles available. Mitchell Schwartz (No. 26) and Eric Fisher (No. 42) were both released by the Chiefs earlier this offseason.

A pair of former Vikings also made Rosenthal's list. Wide receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson was at No. 68, and defensive end Everson Griffen landed at the No. 100 spot.

A potential reunion with Patterson was covered in this week's Monday Morning Mailbag.