Who was the Vikings’ worst free agent signing in 2021?
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I can almost hear people shouting Bashaud Breeland, but he made some good plays. Other signings have also had bad seasons. There are four that I would cite in this regard.
To see if I can give a conclusive opinion on who was the Vikings’ worst free agent signing in 2021, let’s take a look at these four.
He’s probably the toughest of the four players, and he’s started the season well.
A bag on his debut in week 1 and a pick 6 in week 2. Unfortunately, Nick Vigil didn’t build on that start, although he was average in coverage and pass-rush situations. His main weakness was a problem for the team. Run defense. Once again, the team’s Achilles’ heel and big problems came from the edge and linebackers, with Vigil being one of the main culprits.
He took the defensive game on the field when Anthony Barr didn’t play. If, like many other signings, he came on a minimum veteran contract, I might have just put him in my successful free agents. However, he signed a $2.25 million deal in one of the previous deals. His performances didn’t justify the extra money, and halfway through the season, I would have preferred to see Blake Lynch on the pitch.
After a year spent in Carolina, Stephane Weatherly returned to Minnesota (who drafted him). It looked like a solid veteran signing that would add depth to the defensive end position. He didn’t feature much in the opening matches, largely due to another returning ex-Viking. Everson Griffen resumed his old partnership with Danielle Hunter, and the two were playing well. The Vikings decided to trust their young players to support the starters and considered Weatherley surplus.
He left for Denver after the Week 6 win at Carolina. Looking back, after Hunter’s season-ending injury and Griffen’s season-ending mental health issues, letting Weatherley go felt like a mistake. In truth, he didn’t do anything in the opening games to justify keeping him.
Another former Viking who returned was a cornerback Alexander Mackensie after a year in Cincinnati. After the emergence of Cameron Dantzler and the signings of Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland, Alexander’s return as a cornerback was meant to turn one of the team’s weaknesses into a strength.
This does not happen.
Alexander has struggled all season, reflected in his Focus on professional football rating of 40.2. It was the worst rating of any eligible cornerback. He struggled to cover all season, where his PFF coverage rating of 40.3 was also the worst in the league.
It was a substantial fall from grace for a player who had always been solid and, at times, very good. For much of this season he has been a liability. He did a lot of tackles, but it was as good as it gets.
bashuad Breeland’s stay in Minnesota was eventful and rarely dull. There were highlights that included two interceptions and two forced fumbles. There were also times when he was horribly beaten into cover. Then there’s the fact that he kept starting while Cameron Dantzler sat in Mike Zimmers doghouse (for reasons that never made sense until stories started to emerge after the sacking of the head coach of the Vikings).
Besides the on-court performances, there were the off-court stuff that led to his demise in Minnesota. It started with an apparent “shh” from his own fans and angry tweets aimed at his home fanbase. It ended on December 18 when he was embroiled in verbal altercations with players and coaches in training, which allegedly resulted in then-general manager Rick Spielman being called out on the situation. and his waiver by the team that day. It was a fitting way to end his career with the Vikings.
The most damning thing for me was after he left, Cameron Dantzler looked more solid and consistent in the later games than Breeland at any point in the season. Dantzler had his own weak spots throughout the season, but it’s a fair argument to suggest he would have benefited from consistent play from Week 1 on. Building on his promising rookie season. That’s why Bashaud Breeland was the Vikings’ worst free agent signing of 2021. Poor performances, off-court shenanigans and hindering the development of one of our young players. It doesn’t get much worse.