Free agency doesn’t officially start for a couple months, but inevitably, rumors swirl around players set to hit the open market as soon as the season ends. Because of this, Pro Football Focus released an article naming a defensive free agent for each to team to pursue.
In it, Brad Spielberger has a free agent in mind for the Vikings by the name of Byron Murphy. Here is what Spielberger had to say about the veteran cornerback, and the Vikings potential of signing him:
“Minnesota’s struggles in the slot were exploited by nearly every team it faced in 2022, and its best cornerback all year was 32-year-old Patrick Peterson, who is a free agent in his own right. Murphy’s 2022 season was cut short by a back injury, but the former second-rounder has otherwise been durable throughout his rookie contract.
Murphy isn’t just a slot cornerback and earned a career-best 66.7 overall grade through Week 9 while playing primarily out wide, but his versatility will be an asset to a defense that has question marks throughout its cornerback room. Minnesota’s decision to run it back once more in 2022 was arguably a success depending on your perspective, but it will now have to deal with the ramifications of a tough salary cap situation and an aging and very porous defense.
Furthermore, edge defender Danielle Hunter still needs his contract situation to be addressed, and he earned his third straight 75.0-plus pass-rush grade (not including 2020 when he missed the season due to an injury), racking up 70 quarterback pressures and 10.5 sacks. The Vikings front office will have to be methodical with how it improves the defense this offseason, and Murphy brings a lot to the table as a high-floor player with a diverse skill set.“
This past season, it became extremely apparent age was a problem on the Vikings defense. They simply weren’t able to keep up with opposing offenses for much of the time. An acquisition like Murphy would inject youth into the secondary at slot corner, which is a position of need with Chandon Sullivan entering free agency.
Additionally, as Spielberger points out, Murphy doesn’t have to only play in the slot. He spent the first half of the 2022 season playing on the outside for the Arizona Cardinals, so he has the versatility to play at either spot. This becomes even more important because, in the same article, Spielberger has Patrick Peterson leaving the Vikings to sign with the Patriots.
Murphy was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Cardinals where he played each of his first four NFL seasons. In all, he played 56 games, including 48 starts, and he piled up 229 tackles, including 9 TFLs, 3.0 sacks, and he had 34 pass defenses with 9 INTs and 5 fumble recoveries.
Murphy’s 2022 season was cut short due to a back injury, forcing him to miss the final 8 games of the regular season for Arizona. Because of that injury, he may be available at some discount for the Vikings. He’s certainly a player to keep an eye on as the free agency period approaches.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.