The Minnesota Vikings finished 26th in the NFL against the pass in 2011 (251.2 yards per game), and they also intercepted a tied for league-low eight passes. The need for playmakers in the secondary should be one of the primary needs for the team as the pre-draft process and free agency gets going now.
The Kansas City Chiefs signed cornerback Stanford Routt to a three-year, $19.6 million deal on Monday ($4 million dollar signing bonus), creating the possibility they will use their franchise tag on wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and let cornerback Brandon Carr, who is scheduled to become a free agent, test the open market. He would offer an immediate upgrade for any interested team, and the Vikings should be among those in line for his services should he be available.
Carr is firmly in his prime, as he will turn 26 in May, and has played all 16 games in each of his four NFL seasons. He has good size for a corner (6'0", 207 lbs.) and intercepted a career-high four passes in 2011. He also seems to be a willing tackler, though his career-high actually came in his rookie season in 2008 when he had 70 solo tackles. Some of that lack of tackle productivity could be chalked up to opposing teams avoiding his area in the passing game, so the drop to just 39 solo tackles this past season may be much ado about nothing.
Carr is likely to grab the interest of a lot of NFL teams if he hits free agency, so the Vikings will have plenty of competition if they have any interest in signing him. Among the other teams that could have interest in Carr are the Detroit Lions (his hometown team), Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and multiple others who have a need at cornerback that I'm not thinking of. That almost certainly means Carr is about to get paid handsomely no matter where he lands, and whether the Vikings are willing to invest that kind of money in a corner when they have not done so in recent years is a big question. That said, the promotion of Rick Spielman to general manager may lead to a different, more definitive front office philosophy in terms of how resources (money) are allocated on the roster.
The Vikings would have other options on the free agent market if they wanted to go after a cornerback, including Cortland Finnegan, Brent Grimes and Tracy Porter, but it can be argued Carr is a better option than most because of his relative youth even with the big contract he would command. Carr would seem to be a good fit for the Vikings' Cover-2 defensive scheme at the very least, due to his size, and bringing him aboard may allow Antoine Winfield to move to safety and that would seem to strengthen the Vikings at that spot too.