Packers Lose Second Defensive Starter to Vikings This Week

Chandon Sullivan, Green Bay Packers

Getty Chandon Sullivan #39 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to the game against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field on September 12, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The Green Bay Packers have watched two of their former starters on defense sign with the Minnesota Vikings in just the past three days.

The Vikings signed former Packers slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan to a one-year contract on Friday, March 25, per Darren Wolfson of KSTP. The salary figures on the agreement were not immediately available. Sullivan was in Minneapolis for an initial visit the same day, meaning the deal got done quickly.

The defensive back started his career as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018. He joined the Packers the following year and spent the next three seasons in Green Bay. Sullivan appeared in all 49 of the Packers’ regular season games while on the roster, starting 20 of those (10 each in 2020 and 2021).

Over the course of his four-year career, Sullivan has netted 109 tackles, including two tackles for loss, defensed 16 passes, made five interceptions, forced one fumble and scored one defensive touchdown.

Though he is far from a household name, Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated said Friday that the Packers’ meaningful loss of Sullivan will prove the Vikings’ significant gain.

“It’s no surprise the #Packers lost Chandon Sullivan in free agency,” Huber tweeted. “But … 1) He was better than you think. 2) There is no proven depth behind the starting three.”

The Packers expect Jaire Alexander back healthy in 2022 after a shoulder injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4 shut him down for the season. Green Bay also signed Rasul Douglas to a three-year deal following a breakout campaign for the cornerback in 2021. Second-year player and former first-round pick Eric Stokes will be the third starting CB after defensing 14 passes and making one interception last season.

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Vikings Signed Former Packers OLB Za’Darius Smith Tuesday

Za'Darius Smith

GettyThe Vikings signed former Green Bay Packers pass rusher Za’Darius Smith on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

Sullivan is neither the first nor the only former contributor to the Packers’ defense who the Vikings signed away this week.

Minnesota also snapped up pass rusher Za’Darius Smith on Tuesday to the tune of $42 million over three years. Smith spent the previous three seasons in Green Bay as a teammate of Sullivan’s, where the outside linebacker earned trips to consecutive Pro Bowls in 2019 and 2020.

During his first two years in green and gold, Smith racked up 60 quarterback hits and 26 sacks to go along with 29 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. He missed most of 2021 with a back injury that required surgery, though Smith did return in time for the Packers’ Divisional Round Playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers, in which he recorded a sack.

Smith Issues Warning to Packers, NFC North After Joining Vikings

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

GettyQuarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to a game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on January 2, 2022 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Smith joins fellow two-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter in the Vikings’ new 3-4 system and if healthy, the duo is expected to be one of the most fearsome pass rushing tandems in the NFL. When both were Pro-Bowlers in 2019, Hunter was second in the league in QB pressures with 88 behind only Smith with 93, per Pro Football Focus.

At his introductory press conference in Minnesota Tuesday, Smith put his old team and the rest of the NFC North Division on notice.

“It’s going to be fun. I talked to Danielle Hunter yesterday that I was going to be coming here and signing and he was like, ‘Okay, now we can be one of the best duos in the league,'” Smith said. “A lot of quarterbacks, they’re going to have to fear us. … Our main focus is to win the [NFC] North.”

Sullivan will play behind the two pass rushers in 2022 and help them to that end, news of which elicited a Twitter reaction from Smith Friday.

Apparently no words were necessary.

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