The Minnesota Vikings struggled on all three phases in 2020, but their defense was especially bad. The unit was the worst in the Mike Zimmer era and it’s clear they went into free agency with plans to turn things around on that side of the ball.
On Friday night the team reunited with cornerback Mackensie Alexander, who spent the first four seasons of his career in Minnesota before signing with Cincinnati prior to the 2020 season. Alexander is a huge value for the Vikings, as he is reportedly signing a veteran minimum contract and already knows the defensive system.
It seems likely that the starting cornerbacks will now be Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler and Alexander in the slot. The second-year 2020 first-round draft pick Jeff Gladney might be the odd man out, but it’s likely that Zimmer will utilize the newly found depth with some sort of rotation. Getting a true veteran presence in the secondary was clearly a focal point of the offseason and the Vikings have done exactly that.
After the Alexander signing, the only question mark left in the secondary was who would be starting alongside Harrison Smith in the free safety role. Anthony Harris signed with the Eagles earlier in March, but the Vikings found his replacement on Saturday afternoon.
Xavier Woods has been a solid safety for the Cowboys over the course of his career, even though 2020 wasn’t as strong of a performance as the previous few seasons.
Woods is at his best when he can play deep in coverage, something Zimmer will likely have him do with how often he utilizes Smith in the box. Although he is stronger in coverage, he is a more than willing tackler and isn't afraid of high collision plays. Over his first four seasons Woods totaled five interceptions, 18 pass breakups and 247 tackles.
On top of addressing several needs in free agency on the defensive side of the ball, which includes Dalvin Tomlinson and Nick Vigil as well, the Vikings will get back Anthony Barr, Michael Pierce and Danielle Hunter. The team clearly wanted to get back to the Zimmer style of football, and this defense now looks set up to be a top-ten unit once again.
For more Vikings related news tune into KFAN 100.3 and stay up to date on KFAN.com.