A recent fact-error on an NFL fan website has resurfaced rumors of the Minnesota Vikings signing former Cincinnati Bengals veteran cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. He is not signed with the Vikings but there has been speculation of him coming to Minnesota.
Essentially Sports published an article on Thursday quoting Kirkpatrick’s response to the rioting across the country and listed Kirkpatrick as a member of the Vikings, which may have been a result of Kirkpatrick’s Wikipedia page reflecting so.
Rumors stirred of Kirkpatrick potentially being signed when he was released by the Bengals in March and the Vikings were desolate at the position, but after the Vikings drafted three cornerbacks and signed another rookie free agent in the offseason, there’s already plenty of competition and potential at the position.
But Kirkpatrick does have two things going for him that many of the young players that are contending for a roster spot don’t have: veteran experience and history with coach Mike Zimmer.
Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Ties to Zimmer in Cincinnati
Kirkpatrick was drafted 17th overall by the Bengals in 2012, a decision made by Zimmer as defensive coordinator. Kirkpatrick was a rotational player in his first two years under Zimmer’s tutelage before his coach’s departure to Minnesota.
He proved himself during the developmental period of his career and later became a mainstay in the 4-3 defense Zimmer left in place in Cincinnati, starting in 67 games in eight seasons. The Bengals cut ties with the 30-year-old cornerback to clear $8.3 million in cap space after Kirkpatrick missed 13 games in the past two seasons due to injury (shoulder in 2018 and knee hyperextension in 2019).
The Vikings also hired defensive backs coach Daronte Jones, who spent the past two seasons with the Bengals.
Kirkpatrick’s Potential On the Vikings
Rookie draft picks Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler, Harrison Hand and free-agent signee Nevelle Clark jump into an already crowded cornerbacks room with few clearcut roster favorites. All players present different skill sets the Vikings will need to gauge and fit best with projected starters Mike Hughes and Holton Hill — and Kirkpatrick could give Zimmer more flexibility.
Standing 6-foot-2, 190 pounds Kirkpatrick’s combination of size and speed could give the Vikings the versatility it needs in a season where Zimmer needs to replace three missing starters at cornerback in Xavier Rhodes, Mackenzie Alexander and Trae Waynes. That flexibility from a veteran could be valuable barring which cornerbacks come along for the 2020 season.
Despite being a few years out of his physical prime, Kirkpatrick did allow just 44.4 percent catch rate on targets thrown his way in 2018, which was good for second-best in the NFL.
Beyond playing, the intangible of veteran leadership is well-needed with Hughes currently the most experienced cornerback entering his third season.
The Vikings currently have three open roster spots with training camp approaching.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire