Kind of lost in the hullabaloo of the Captain Munnerlyn signing and the Henry Melton vigil, the Vikings made a low key addition late last night with the signing of former Chargers CB Derek Cox.
Cox has been in the NFL since 2009, starting 56 of 63 games played with Jacksonville, where he played his first four seasons, and San Diego, where he played last year. He started the first 11 games with the Chargers, but was benched for poor play, and eventually cut after getting a $10.25 million dollar contract. His PFF rankings were a -12.3 overall, with a -14.6 coverage rating. Opposing teams completed 60% of their passes against Cox, and opposing QB's amassed a passer rating of over 104. Historically, though, Cox has been a much better player. In 2012, he was a -2.5 overall, but a +1.2 in coverage, with an opposing passer rating of just 69.0. And in just 6 games in 2011, he was 6.8 overall with a 5.6 coverage.
Cox is a big corner, at 6'1", and has the skillset to succeed. This seems like a classic Rick Spielman move--injured guy with a past performance, but still young enough (he's 27) to be able to contribute for a lot of years if he can stay healthy and prove himself. To that end, the Vikings gave Cox a one year 'prove it' deal, and Minnesota now has eight cornerbacks on the roster: Cox, Munnerlyn, Kip Edwards, Shaun Prater, Xavier Rhodes, Josh Robinson, Marcus Sherels, and Robert Steeples. If you force me to rank order them right now, I'll go Munnerlyn, Rhodes, Sherels, Prater, Robinson/Cox, then everyone else.
This could also signal the definitive end for Chris Cook coming back. Cook, who actually had a better year than Cox, at least according to PFF, always seemed to be on the fence about returning, at least in the eyes of the fans. On one side, there were folks who thought Cook had shown enough potential, if only in spurts, to give him one more chance under the new regime. He was compared, not unfairly, to the case of Adam 'I don't go by Pac Man Anymore' Jones, who was a very talented but exceptionally troubled player, until he got to Cincinnati under then defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Jones, by all accounts, has done a 180, and is a good player on the field and good citizen off. Cook, who doesn't quite have the talent level...or trouble level...of Jones, seemed like a guy that Zimmer could work with. The other side of the opinion fence, though, has had enough of his several off the field issues, constant injuries on the field, and his play regressed significantly in 2013. And it's kind of a sad commentary that when a defensive lineman or linebacker gets an interception, they have more career picks than Chris Cook. Even if it's their first one.
Cook might have sealed his own fate in Minnesota a few days ago. After a meeting with Coach Zimmer, Cook put the fact that they met out on social media, and Zimmer was none too pleased with that. This signing seems to be an indication of how displeased Zimmer was.
However, this could also be one last final shot across Cook's bow, with the Vikings still re-signing him and letting Cook use this as a motivator. We'll see.
As to the rest of free agency, the Vikings may not be finished, as Henry Melton is still in town, and we should know an answer on that sometime later today. Stay tuned.