Vikings Sign Free-Agent Cornerback After Family Tragedy: Report

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Getty The Vikings signed Amari Henderson on Friday.

Amari Henderson earned his stake with the Minnesota Vikings at rookie minicamps three weeks ago. The 2020 undrafted rookie proved his worth in a tryout and was offered a contract by the Vikings.

At the time Minnesota offered Henderson a contract, he broke down and cried.

Henderson, whose older brother was killed in a hit-and-run in Texas the week of his tryout, had to return to his home of Charlotte for the funeral before putting pen to paper with the Vikings, per Pioneer Press reporter Chris Tomasson.

He returned to Minnesota on Monday and officially signed with the team, the Star Tribune’s Andrew Krammer reported. Henderson becomes the 90th and final member of the Vikings roster ahead of training camp.

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 Henderson’s Background

A four-year starter out of Wake Forest, Henderson posted at least 10 passes broken up (PBU) every season of his college career and tallied seven career interceptions and 48 PBUs.

He spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars last summer but did not make the final roster in Jacksonville. Tomasson reported that a source said Henderson, who stands 6-foot-1, was just 168 pounds at Jaguars training camp but has since bulked up to 188 pounds.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler noted Henderson’s lack of size and inability to reroute receivers when overpowered. Henderson compensated for his slight frame in college with his football sense and length. He’s also, despite his size, a willing tackler.

Here’s Brugler’s overall evaluation of Henderson:

A four-year starter at Wake Forest, Henderson played both left and right cornerback in defensive coordinator Lyle Hemphill’s scheme.

He earned a starting role as a redshirt freshman and posted double-digit passes defended each of the last four seasons, finishing his career No. 3 in school history in pass breakups. Henderson has terrific awareness from zone coverage and does a great job feeling routes around him, driving downhill or floating underneath throws. He has a natural feel for playmaking angles, but must improve the balance in his pedal and transition.

Overall, Henderson is a gawky, finesse cornerback with unimpressive play strength, but his length, route recognition and ball skills will give him a fighting chance in training camp.

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Henderson Joins Crowded Cornerbacks Room

Henderson becomes the sixth cornerback signed since March this offseason as the position group will be one of the most contested battles at training camp.

Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander are considered locks for starting roles after signing with the Vikings at the beginning of free agency. Meanwhile, Bashaud Breeland, signed last Friday, is under the impression he’ll be competing for a starting role with 2020 third-round rookie Cameron Dantzler.

Parry Nickerson and Tye Smith  provide more veteran experience to the cornerbacks room. Meanwhile, returning Vikings corners Kris Boyd, Harrison Hand and Dylan Mabin remain in the mix to compete for spots on the 53-man roster.

Jeff Gladney, last year’s No. 31 overall pick, remains questionable to return to Minnesota this season as he faces an assault charge from April.


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