American Football

Looking at ESPN’s “best fit” free agent for the Vikings


Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Not a big name, but a good one

There are going to be a lot of pieces over the next couple of weeks about what NFL teams should do when free agency officially opens on 13 March (with the still-absurdly named “legal tampering” period kicking off two days before that). One prominent outlet believes that there’s a veteran out there who could immediately help the Minnesota Vikings at one of their positions of significant needs.

Behind the great E$PN paywall, NFL analyst Matt Bowen has taken ESPN’s list of the top 50 available free agents and determined which team is the best fit for each of them. Of those 50 players, Bowen only has one as a “best fit” for the Vikings. That player is cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, who could provide a much-needed upgrade to a unit that is still pretty young and inexperienced.

I originally had Murphy-Bunting to Arizona here, but I believe the Vikings will be seeking some corners for Brian Flores’ aggressive system, and he’d work well in Minnesota. With his long frame and fluid hips, Murphy-Bunting can challenge on the outside or match in blitz coverage. He has eight interceptions and 22 pass breakups over five pro seasons, with two picks in 2023 in Tennessee.

Murphy-Bunting has been in the league since 2019, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him a second-round pick (#39 overall) in that year’s draft. He spent four seasons with the Buccaneers, including being a part of their Super Bowl-winning team in Super Bowl LV. As a part of that playoff run, he became the first player to intercept a pass in his first three career playoff games since Ed Reed. He notched a pick in the Wild Card round, the Divisional round, and the NFC Championship Game.

The Bucs allowed him to test free agency after the 2022 season, and he signed a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans. Murphy-Bunting started 14 games for the Titans this season and recorded 57 tackles, eight passes defended, and a pair of interceptions.

The Vikings’ secondary pretty much fell apart towards the end of last season. Once last year’s big free agent signing at the position, Byron Murphy, went down with a knee injury and missed the final three games, the cornerback corps for the Vikings struggled to keep up and the Vikings’ defense started allowing points in bunches as a result. With a player like Murphy-Bunting to complement Murphy at the corner spot and the continued development of Mekhi Blackmon, the Vikings could potentially turn that weakness around.

Personally, I’d much prefer to see the Vikings address their cornerback need in free agency that try to spend another high draft pick at the position. With players like Blackmon, Akayleb Evans, and Andrew Booth Jr. at the position there’s plenty of youth to be had already. They need some experience at that spot to balance things out and lead the way for a secondary that could continue to find itself in transition in 2024.

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