Vikings’ Wasted 1st-Round Pick Signs With NFC Rival: Report

Jeff Gladney

Courtesy of Vikings Former Vikings first-round pick Jeff Gladney signed with the Arizona Cardinals on March 16, 2022.

The Minnesota Vikings made a tough decision to sever ties with 2020 first-round cornerback Jeff Gladney after the Texas native was indicted with family domestic assault charges in Dallas County court last June.

Gladney, 25, was cut from the roster after just one season in Minnesota. But after a Dallas jury found Gladney not guilty on those charges, he is making his return to the NFL after a year-long legal hiatus.

And it won’t be with the Vikings.

“CB Jeff Gladney is signing with the #Cardinals, per sources. Gladney, 25, is a former first-round pick of the #Vikings. I’m told the Cards really like his ability to play both inside and out,” NFL insider Jordan Schultz reported on March 16.

There have been no reports of whether Minnesota reached out to Gladney following the ruling of his court hearing. The Vikings are desperate for help at cornerback entering the first day of the official 2022 league year.

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Vikings Desperate at Cornerback

Minnesota’s cornerbacks group hasn’t been right since the end of the 2019 season.

Kirk Cousins‘ two-year, $66 million contract extension in the 2020 offseason sparked a mass exodus of veteran talent, some of which had underperformed for their price on the team’s books the previous year.

The Vikings released all three of their starting cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander and tasked Mike Zimmer with reloading the cornerbacks corps through the draft.

Gladney, the No. 31 overall pick in the 2020 draft, was the centerpiece of that rehaul, along with third-round pick Cameron Dantzler. The group suffered injury and inexperience, allowing the eighth-most passing yards per game (258.8) in 2020.

Dantzler spent most of the 2021 season in Zimmer’s doghouse while the former Vikings coach relied on veteran free-agent signings Patrick Peterson, Bashaud Breeland and Alexander (back after a year with the Cincinnati Bengals). Despite a reload of single-year rentals at cornerback, the group took few steps forward, allowing the fifth-most yards (252.9) per game last season.

With free agency opening on March 16, the cupboard is bare at cornerback with Dantzler being the top corner, followed by Kris Boyd, Harrison Hand and Parry Nickerson.

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Peterson Wants to Return, Vikings Likely to Draft 1st Round Corner

The old Zimmer adage, “you can never have too many corners” rings true in 2022.

In NFL mock drafts, Minnesota has added cornerback more than any other position with the No. 12 overall pick in the upcoming draft.

Derek Stingley (LSU), Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner (Cincinnati), Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson) and Trent McDuffie (Washington) are all potential targets for the Vikings who could have their pick among a deep cornerback class come April.

A veteran signing will also be imperative to help develop a young cornerbacks core.

Peterson has also expressed interest in returning to Minnesota, recently saying “I loved Minnesota” on the All Things Covered podcast on March 16.

“I stand where I stood in December,” Peterson said. “I loved everything about Minnesota. At the end of the day, the ball’s in their court now if they want me back. I’m a free agent right now and I have a couple teams that say that they’re interested, so we’ll see what happens in the next couple days.”

The Vikings have also contacted former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darius Williams, KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported.

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