Vikings, Eyeing $82 Million All-Pro Defender, Fumble Potential Deal: Report

Vikings, Eyeing $82 Million All-Pro Defender, Fumble Potential Deal: Report

Getty General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The new Minnesota Vikings regime has shown its willingness to make midseason trades to improve their chances.

Running back Cam Akers and offensive lineman Dalton Risner were both acquired last month as Minnesota hasn’t thrown in the towel on its season despite a slow start. The Vikings also had their eyes on another veteran who could provide needed improvement on defense — Los Angeles Chargers All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson.

“If the Chargers had cut the chord on J.C. Jackson, there was going to be interest with the Vikings,” KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported on October 5, adding that the Vikings were not interested in a trade because of the weight of taking on Jackson’s five-year, $82.50 million contract he signed last year.

But as the details of the New England Patriots trade for Jackson have surfaced, Minnesota missed out on what could have been an easy deal to make for the lockdown corner.

A late-round pick swap was all it took to convince the Chargers to part ways with Jackson. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Los Angeles will receive a 2025 sixth-round pick from the Patriots in exchange for Jackson and a seventh-round pick that year.

More importantly, the Chargers shouldered Jackson’s $7.77 million bonus to facilitate the deal, leaving just a $1.55 million base salary for the Patriots to pay out the remainder of the season, per ESPN’s Field Yates. Jackson’s final three years have no guarantees, meaning New England could easily rework the deal or release him.

Minnesota currently has $9.52 million in available cap space this season and could have easily taken on Jackson’s base salary.

Furthermore, Jackson, who won a Super Bowl in New England with Brian Flores, would have been an ideal outside corner for a struggling Vikings cornerback group.

J.C. Jackson an Ideal Reunion for Vikings’ Brian Flores

GettyFormer Los Angeles Chargers cornerback JC Jackson warming up ahead of an NFL game.

A physical cornerback coming out of Maryland, Jackson was a raw prospect with only two years of playing experience in college and went undrafted. The Patriots signed Jackson his rookie year, which kickstarted his development into one of the NFL’s top man-coverage cornerbacks.

“The former Patriot ranks second in man coverage grade since 2018,” Pro Football Focus (PFF) analyst Anthony Treash wrote, ranking Jackson the league’s fourth-best outside corner in the 2022 offseason. “He has intercepted 19 passes in man coverage over that span — five more than the second-place player and twice as many as third place. His mirror ability and poise at the catch point make him a nightmare to throw at.”

Barely into his second season in Los Angeles, Jackson’s skillset was unfit for coach Brandon Staley’s zone-heavy coverage scheme. He played just five games in 2022 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Jackson struggled adjusting to the new scheme, allowing 19 receptions on 27 targets in coverage for four touchdowns and a passer rating allowed of 152.4.

But his career 60.4 passer rating allowed speaks volumes to his effectiveness when used as a shadow cover man who can take on every team’s top pass catcher.

The Vikings are missing that with top corners Byron Murphy Jr.Akayleb Evans and rookie Mekhi Blackmon all struggling. Three cornerbacks are allowing over a 125.0 passer rating when targeted this season, according to PFF.

 Vikings Coverage Struggles So Far

Through four weeks, the Vikings have primarily deployed Murphy and Evans on the outside and playing safety Josh Metellus at nickel cornerback.

Ideally, Murphy would be in the slot after playing over 1,500 snaps inside over his career with the Arizona Cardinals. However, Blackmon has been eased into the defensive rotation, relegating Murphy to primarily an outside role.

The Vikings are invested in developing Evans and Blackmon and should continue to give the young corners opportunities. Signing a versatile corner like Murphy fits that plan.

But with four games under their belts, the Vikings could use some veteran help.

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