As we’ve known since their season ended, there’s a very good chance that the defensive backfield for the Minnesota Vikings is going to look much different in 2020 than what we’ve been used to in recent years. A lot of the primary contributors are about to hit free agency, while cornerback Xavier Rhodes has been tabbed as a prime candidate to be released because of his significant salary cap figure and his declining play over the past couple of seasons.
If the post that fellow cornerback Trae Waynes put up on Instagram earlier on Sunday is any indicator, both of the Vikings’ starting cornerbacks from the 2019 season are going to be moving on.
The picture is of Rhodes and Waynes celebrating a big play at U.S. Bank Stadium, with a caption that simply reads “29 where we goin fam!” Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but perhaps “26” and “29” have already been given an indication that they won’t be back with the Vikings in 2020.
Waynes and Rhodes have both played their entire careers with the Vikings. Rhodes was one of the team’s three first-round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, and got a big contract extension at the start of Training Camp in 2017. Waynes was the Vikings’ first-round pick in 2015, and just finished playing out his fifth-year option season on his rookie contract. While Waynes is set to hit free agency regardless, Rhodes currently carries a cap figure of $12.9 million for 2020, though the Vikings would save a little over $8 million of that by cutting him loose.
In addition to Waynes and Rhodes, the Vikings could be in line to lose safeties Anthony Harris and Jayron Kearse and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Of the Vikings’ primary defensive backs, only safety Harrison Smith is under contract to the team for the foreseeable future.
While the new league year doesn’t officially begin for another two and a half weeks, it would appear that two of the mainstays of the Vikings’ defensive backfield already know that their future in the NFL doesn’t involve the purple and gold. We’ll see if anything changes between now and 18 March.