The Vikings defense is getting a major facelift with across-the-board changes but the Patrick Peterson replacement is actually just a big-time upgrade.
Brian Flores is taking over the Minnesota Vikings defense in the 2023 season, something that fans are thanking whatever deity they show gratitude to over. But with that appears to be coming wholesale changes to this group. That’s particularly true in the cornerback room.
Not only is veteran Patrick Peterson now gone to Pittsburgh, ironically where Flores came from, but the team also released former third-round pick Cameron Dantzler. Outside of 2022 second-round pick Andrew Booth Jr., though, that left Minnesota in need of a replacement for Peterson on the outside to shore up the secondary.
They found about as good of a replacement as they could on Tuesday night.
As reported by NFL insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, the Vikings are signing former Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy to a two-year contract that’s worth something close to $22 million.
Vikings replace Patrick Peterson with upgrade in Byron Murphy
Admittedly, Peterson was quite good in coverage in the 2022 season. But that’s an outlier given his recent track record prior to last year and, at 33 years old, it’s hard to imagine it becoming the norm. As for Murphy, that’s a different story and one that’s much better for the Vikings.
Murphy had a tough rookie season in Arizona but has gotten better and more versatile with each season. He’s improved in coverage in addition to proving that he can play in the slot or on the outside but is also a much better run defender on the outside than Peterson has been for quite some time.
When you look at Flores and consider the big changes the Vikings defense needs, having a well-rounded and ascending player like Murphy paired with another young corner in Booth makes a ton of sense. It’s an upgrade in terms of Murphy’s best years being ahead of him with how he’s progressed but also in terms of setting a new culture and mentality for a unit that needs just that.
The departures from Minnesota have been far more numerous than the new arrivals so far this offseason. But landing Murphy is a big splash that the team needed to make, especially with Peterson and Dantzler now gone.