The Minnesota Vikings have been bleeding defensive backs over the past few days before finally adding a playmaker to the mix on Tuesday.
Minnesota signed “big-time defender” and 25-year-old free agent Byron Murphy to the roster on March 14, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The former Arizona Cardinals cornerback agreed to a two-year deal worth $17.5 million in total to join the Vikings.
Within 24 hours of the signing, Chandon Sullivan — one of the Vikings current free agent cornerbacks — offered his thoughts on the deal and what it means for his tenure in Minnesota. Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Sullivan’s comments via Twitter on Wednesday.
“Free agent cornerback Chandon Sullivan doesn’t know if he is in the mix to possibly be re-signed by the #Vikings,” Tomasson wrote. “He had this to say about Minnesota agreeing to sign cornerback Byron Murphy: ‘I know he’s a solid player, so that’s an understandable move.'”
Sullivan Potentially Part of Vikings’ Massive Overhaul in Secondary
Sullivan — who entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018, just one year prior to Murphy being drafted No. 33 overall in the second round by the Cardinals — is still waiting on his first significant NFL pay day.
The slot cornerback inked a one-year deal with the Vikings last offseason worth just $1.75 million. He spent the previous three campaigns as a member of the NFC North Division rival Green Bay Packers.
Sullivan appeared in all 17 games for the Vikings in 2022, earning 10 starts. He produced just seven defensed passes and one fumble recovery last regular season, per Pro Football Reference. Sullivan picked off three passes for the Packers the year prior and has five career interceptions to his name.
Cornerback Duke Shelley, who the Vikings added to the roster after he was cut by the Chicago Bears last season, joins Sullivan on the free agency market this year. His future is also potentially in limbo with the addition of Brian Flores as the new defensive coordinator in Minnesota.
The Vikings cut cornerback Cameron Dantzler Jr. on March 10, opening up a starting role for Murphy upon his arrival. The team publicly expressed a desire to re-sign cornerback Patrick Peterson this month, though the eight-time Pro-Bowler subsequently picked up stakes for a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
Murphy Superior Cornerback to Both Dantzler, Sullivan
Murphy struggled with a back injury that cost him eight games in 2022. But even despite that, he is a superior cornerback to both Dantzler and Sullivan by just about any measure.
Murphy has tallied 229 tackles, including nine tackles for loss, 34 defensed passes, five interceptions, five fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns over the course of his four-year NFL career spanning 56 games played and 48 starts, per Pro Football Reference. He has also amassed four quarterback hits, three sacks and a forced fumble.
The Cardinals featured Murphy as the top cornerback in their defense in 2022, during which he earned an overall player grade of 66.7, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Murphy was a far superior defender against the run than either Dantzler or Sullivan last season, per PFF.
Murphy’s coverage grade was similar to Dantzler’s, though both players were far better in pass coverage than was Sullivan last season.