Xavier Rhodes

Vikings Receiving Calls On Veterans

It could be a busy day in Minnesota. SI.com’s Albert Breer tweets that the organization has received calls on three veterans: tight end Kyle Rudolph and cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes. Breer notes that while the organization is not “actively shopping” the trio, they’d be open to trades for their expensive veterans.

Breer had mentioned earlier this week that the Vikings could be willing to talk trade. Rudolph is a natural trade candidate, as the tight end is set to earn $7.28MM in the final year of his contract. The organization also selected Alabama tight end Irv Smith Jr. with their second-round pick, which naturally added some competition to the position. General manager Rick Spielman said the two players can play different roles on offense, with ESPN’s Courtney Cronin suggesting the offense could replicate Philly, where Zach Ertz and Trey Burton coexisted. The 29-year-old Rudolph had another productive season in 2018, hauling in 64 receptions for 634 yards and four scores.

Waynes is also a natural trade candidate, as the cornerback will be playing on a fully-guaranteed fifth-year option salary of $9.07MM. The former first-rounded has spent his entire career in Minnesota, including a 2018 campaign where he finished with 44 tackles, eight passes defended, and one interception.

As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com points out, trading Rhodes could be a bit more complicated. His $10.4MM salary is fully-guaranteed, and a trade would subsequently trigger a $7.2MM cap charge. At this point of the offseason, it could be difficult for an inquiring team to fit the 28-year-old into their books. On the flip side, a trade would help the Vikings financially; the team would save $6.14MM in cap space by trading the defensive back. Rhodes finished last season with 47 tackles, nine passes defended, and one interception.

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Breer’s Latest: Jets, Broncos, Rudolph

Some assorted notes from SI.com’s Albert Breer leading up to tonight’s draft…

  • The Jets are beginning to gain some traction on a deal involving the third-overall pick. Breer mentions that the Redskins could be a match, with the team presumably eyeing a quarterback. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins could be an option, as could Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (if he isn’t taken with the first-overall pick). Breer notes that if the Jets remain in the top-10, they could opt for Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who one scout described as “the epitome of a [defensive coordinator] Gregg Williams player.”
  • Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is “rising continuously in draft meetings” among the Broncos front office. The team could be eyeing him with pick No. 10, or they could be preparing for a scenario where Lock falls towards the bottom of the first round.
  • After paying Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter, the Vikings could be looking to deal one of their other pricey veterans. Tight end Kyle Rudolph could be a trade candidate, and Breer writes that he wouldn’t be shocked if the Patriots make a play for the pass-catcher. The writer mentions cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes as well as wideout Laquon Treadwell as trade candidates.
  • Two players who are set to play on their fifth-year option are on the block. Breer writes that Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor and 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead “have been part of trade discussions.” On the flip side, Breer believes that it’s unlikely that the 49ers trade defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.
  • If Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat gets past the Redskins (No. 15), Panthers (No. 16), or Seahawks (No.21), Breer is unsure how far the defensive end could end up falling. Breer points to the Rams as a potential fit at the end of the first round. Reports indicated that Sweat was diagnosed with a heart condition, although there were rumblings today that he may have been misdiagnosed.

Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes Inactive For Today’s Game

The Vikings can secure a playoff birth with a win today, but they’ll have to play the game without one of their defensive leaders. The team announced that cornerback Xavier Rhodes is inactive for today’s game against the Bears.

Rhodes had been listed as questionable heading into the day with a groin injury, and there was some optimism that he’d be able to play. However, following a 20-minute pregame workout, the team decided to sit the two-time Pro Bowler. With Rhodes on the sideline, the team will now likely turn to rookie Holton Hill to play opposite Trae Waynes. The team could also look to give reps to Mackensie Alexander.

The 28-year-old Rhodes was having another productive season 2018, compiling 47 tackles, seven passes defended, and one interception. Pro Football Focus hasn’t been particularly fond of his performance, ranking him 105th among 117 eligible cornerbacks. While those metrics aren’t very favorable, there’s no denying that the Vikings would rather have Rhodes on the field for such an important game.

Minnesota automatically secures an NFC wild card spot if they win today’s game against Chicago. If the Vikings lose, they’ll need the Eagles to lose/tie with the Redskins.

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Injury Notes: Vikings, Packers, Colts, Bucs, Falcons

The Vikings received some excellent news on Monday when an MRI revealed cornerback Xavier Rhodes suffered a “very, very mild” hamstring injury, head coach Mike Zimmer told reporters, including Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). While Minnesota does have depth in its secondary (Mackensie Alexander, Holton Hill), the club had already lost rookie first-round corner Mike Hughes for the season. And missing Rhodes, who was named All-Pro in 2017, for any amount of time would have been devastating. After beating the Packers on Sunday night, the Vikings now have a 63% chance of earning a postseason berth, per FiveThirtyEight.com.

Let’s take a look at more injury news from around the NFL:

  • Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari suffered two knee injuries and an ankle injury against the Vikings last night, but there is still hope he’ll be able to play against the Cardinals in Week 13, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. After being defeated by Minnesota, Green Bay will almost surely need to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs, and losing Bakhtiari certainly wouldn’t help matters. Arguably the league’s best pass-blocking tackle, Bakhtiari missed six games over his first five seasons in the NFL. If Bakhtiari’s not able to play against Arizona, former second-round pick Jason Spriggs would take over on Aaron Rodgers‘ blindside.
  • After going down with a concussion against the Dolphins, Colts running back Marlon Mack is “iffy” for Week 13, tweets Mike Chappell of Fox59. Mack missed three games with a hamstring injury earlier this year, but has averaged 16.5 carries per game since as Indianapolis’ lead back. The 6-5 Colts face a winnable game against the Jaguars next Sunday as they fight for a playoff spot, and would turn to Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to play more snaps if Mack can’t go.
  • Buccaneers receiver DeSean Jackson is headed to New York to get a second opinion on his thumb injury, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jackson was originally injured in Week 11, and while he played against the 49ers in Week 12, it still sounds as though the issue is bothering him. Elsewhere in Tampa Bay, tight end O.J. Howard — who is already on injured reserve — is facing a four-to-six week recovery timeline for his ankle ailment, tweets Laine. Given that the Bucs are already out of postseason contention, Howard isn’t a candidate to return this year.
  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said linebacker Deion Jones looks excellent but stopped short of saying Jones will be ready for Week 13, reports Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones was activated off injured reserve in advance of Week 11, but he still has yet to see the field. After originally suffering a foot injury in Week 1, Jones hasn’t played since, and his — and other key defenders’ — absences have contributed to Atlanta’s disappointing 4-7 record.

NFC Notes: Freeman, Panthers, Vikes

An extension for Falcons running back Devonta Freeman doesn’t appear imminent, but an agreement should come together by early September, writes Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The Falcons and Freeman’s agent, Kristin Campbell, are engaging in daily conversations, and both sides are motivated to reach a deal, adds Graziano. Atlanta regards the 25-year-old as a cornerstone player after witnessing him pile up 1,000-plus rushing yards in each of the previous two campaigns, to go with 27 touchdowns (22 on the ground, five as a receiver) and 127 catches. Freeman provided that production while making a relative pittance, and he’ll earn another low base salary this year ($1.797MM) if talks with the Falcons fall through. It doesn’t appear that will happen, however.

More from the NFC:

  • Corey Graham visited the Panthers last week, but the two sides could not agree on money, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN (on Twitter). The safety signed with the Eagles on Thursday.
  • Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodesfive-year, $70MM extension features $32.8 million in guaranteed money (excluding the $8.026MM he’ll make this season as a fifth-year option player), writes Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. The accord also comes with $500K in per-game roster bonuses from 2018-22 and annual workout bonuses of $100K.
  • Quarterback Luke McCown‘s one-year pact with the Cowboys includes a $1MM base salary, $170K guaranteed and an $80K signing bonus, per Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • The Redskins worked out rookie safety Alex Gray on Thursday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Gray previously spent time with the Buccaneers, who signed him as an undrafted free agent from Appalachian State.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Vikings, Xavier Rhodes Agree To Extension

The Vikings and cornerback Xavier Rhodes have agreed to terms on a five-year, $70MM extension, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Rhodes was already slated to earn a little over $8MM this season under his fifth-year option, so in total, he is now under contract for six years (through 2022) and $78MM. As Schefter reports, the deal includes a whopping $41MM in guaranteed money, and also comes with a $12MM signing bonus, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Xavier Rhodes

This is not surprising news, as reports from multiple sources this morning indicated that the two sides expected to finalize a deal today, and we heard yesterday that a lucrative extension was imminent. Schefter adds (via Twitter) that Rhodes will receive $42MM over the first three years of the contract, and he now ranks as the league’s third-highest-paid corner in terms of average annual value (behind only Trumaine Johnson, who is playing out the 2017 season under the franchise tag, and Josh Norman).

Rhodes, whom the Vikings selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, turned in the best season of his career in 2016, which earned him his first Pro Bowl nod. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics were fairly kind to his overall effort, as Rhodes graded out as the 29th-best corner in the league out of 111 qualified players, but PFF really loved his performance against the run, where he graded as the top CB in football. Whatever issues he had in coverage he helped to make up for with his five interceptions, one of which he returned 100 yards for a score.

Since he became a full-time starter in 2014, Rhodes has also been pretty durable. He started all 16 regular-season contests in 2014 and 2015, and after missing the first two weeks of 2016 with a knee injury, he started and finished the remaining 14 games.

As Rapoport tweets, Minnesota will pursue a long-term deal with linebacker Anthony Barr next offseason.

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Vikings, Xavier Rhodes Close On Extension

The Vikings are close to finalizing an extension with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

A source informed Tomasson the deal is expected to be in the five-year, $70MM vicinity. That would tie Rhodes to the Vikings through the 2022 season. The cornerback is set to make just more than $8MM on a fifth-year option this season.

We heard earlier this week the Vikings made a “nice offer” to the 27-year-old cornerback, who is entering his contract year. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported the team is willing to make him one of the league’s highest-paid corners.

An assistant coach at Florida State during Rhodes’ time there and a former NFL corner, Terrell Buckley serves as a mentor to Rhodes. He told Tomasson there was a “high probability” Rhodes will sign an extension by the end of the week but is attempting to get a couple of things “squared away” with this Vikes proposal. Buckley added Rhodes “loves” playing for Mike Zimmer and secondary coach Jerry Gray, further pointing to a long Rhodes stay in Minneapolis.

At $14MM annually, that would match Rhodes with Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson as the third-highest-paid corner. Only Josh Norman makes more than that annually, although Trumaine Johnson‘s franchise tag ($16.742MM) has him as the league’s highest-paid corner for 2017.

In addition to Rhodes, the Vikings want to lock down key members of their defense, Tomasson reports. They are internally discussing extensions for Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Linval Joseph, per Tomasson. The team just signed Everson Griffen to a $57.9MM extension.

The Vikings rode their defense to a dominant start in 2016, jumping out to a 5-0 mark. Minnesota finished third defensively last season. Barr became extension-eligible after last season, but Kendricks — as a 2015 second-round pick — isn’t yet allowed to sign one until after this season. Joseph has delivered dominant football to the Vikings after they signed him as a UFA from the Giants. He has two years remaining on the five-year, $31.25MM deal he signed in 2014. Joseph is set to make $6.85MM in each of the next two seasons.

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Vikings Offered Extension To Xavier Rhodes

The Vikings have made a “nice offer” to cornerback Xavier Rhodes and are willing to make him one of the league’s highest-paid cornerbacks, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link).Xavier Rhodes (vertical)

Rhodes, 27, has appeared in 59 games for Minnesota since being selected with the 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft. 2016 was a Pro Bowl campaign for Rhodes, who earned the nod after starting 14 games and racking up five interceptions while grading as the league’s No. 29 corner, per Pro Football Focus, which also ranked Rhodes as the single-best run-defending corner in the NFL.

Under team control for the 2017 season thanks to his fifth-year option, Rhodes will earn $8.026MM for the upcoming year. In order to ensure he’s one of the NFL’s highest-paid at his position, the Vikings will likely need to clear the $13MM per year barrier for Rhodes. That level of contract would put him in line with Stephon Gilmore, A.J. Bouye, and Desmond Trufant. If Rhodes can hit $14MM or even $15MM annually, he’ll join the ranks of Josh Norman, Patrick Peterson, and Richard Sherman.

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Extension Candidate: Xavier Rhodes

The Vikings’ defense finished 2016 ninth in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), third in yards allowed per game, and sixth in points allowed per game. In short, Minnesota boasted a pretty strong defense, and there is a lot of credit to go around for that performance.

Dec 1, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes (29) during a game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Cowboys defeated the Vikings 17-15. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes deserves a great deal of that credit. Rhodes, whom the Vikings selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, turned in the best season of his career in 2016, which earned him his first Pro Bowl nod. Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics were fairly kind to his overall effort, as Rhodes graded out as the 29th-best corner in the league out of 111 qualified players, but PFF really loved his performance against the run, where he graded as the top CB in football. Whatever issues he had in coverage he helped to make up for with his five interceptions, one of which he returned 100 yards for a score.

Minnesota picked up Rhodes’ fifth-year option last year, so he is currently under contract through 2017, and he is set to earn a tidy $8.026MM this season. But that doesn’t mean Rhodes wouldn’t be open to a long-term deal, and the Vikings do have a history of signing key players to extensions during contract years. Indeed, we heard back in February that the team was expected to begin negotiating a new contract with Rhodes, and while there have been no public reports of such negotiations, it does not appear that either side has put a deadline on contract talks. As such, it could be that a deal gets hammered out at some point during the season.

Former NFL agent Joel Corry says Desmond Trufant‘s recent extension with the Falcons could serve as a barometer for Rhodes’ negotiations with Minnesota. Trufant, whose total contract value is currently the third-highest in the league among cornerbacks — and who was drafted three picks ahead of Rhodes — pulled down a five-year, $68.75MM deal from Atlanta, including $41.53MM in guaranteed money. In addition to being just about the same age, Trufant and Rhodes are similarly talented players, both solid in coverage and stout against the run, so it would not be a surprise to see Rhodes land a contract that matches or exceeds Trufant’s pact.

Since he became a full-time starter in 2014, Rhodes has also been pretty durable. He started all 16 regular-season contests in 2014 and 2015, and after missing the first two weeks of 2016 with a knee injury, he started and finished the remaining 14 games. The Vikings have about $13.5MM in cap space at the moment (under the Rule of 51), so theoretically they could even front-load a Rhodes extension to give themselves some wiggle room down the road. In any event, expect to see Rhodes and fellow Pro Bowler Harrison Smith sharing Minnesota’s defensive backfield for the next few years.

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NFC Notes: Vikings, Rhodes, Saints, 49ers

Free agent cornerback K’Waun Williams will take his visit with the Vikings next Tuesday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Williams, 25, had meetings with the Lions and Jets earlier this week, and is expected to convene with the Dolphins and 49ers at some point, as well. After starting 10 total games during his first two years in the NFL, Williams was sidelined for all of 2016 thanks to an ankle injury.

Here’s more from Minnesota and the rest of the NFC:

  • The Vikings have are expected to hire former Purdue and Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell as their new wide receivers coach, according to Alex Marvez of the Sporting News (Twitter link). Hazell, who was fired only six games into the Boilermakers’ 2016 campaign, has a career NCAA record of 25-43. Internal offensive assistant Drew Petzing was also thought to be a candidate for the position, but instead it’s Hazell who will replace George Stewart, who left for Los Angeles.
  • While they’ll face decisions on unrestricted free agents Matt Kalil, Captain Munnerlyn, and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings are also expected to begin negotiating a contract extension with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, according to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Thanks to his fifth-year option, Rhodes is signed through the 2017 season, during which he’ll earn $8.026MM. A long-term deal could nearly double his salary, as Josh Norman currently leads all cornerbacks with a $15MM annual figure.
  • The Saints are likely to select an offensive tackle early in the draft, perhaps as early as Round 1, writes Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Although Drew Brees‘ blindside is locked down by Terron Armstead, right tackle Zach Strief is now 33 years old and entering the twilight of his career. Strief is due a $1.5MM roster bonus later this spring, and New Orleans is expected to pay that figure if Strief definitely decides to continue his career, per Triplett. As such, the Saints likely won’t target a tackle in the free agent market, and the draft looks like a better avenue to find a new lineman.
  • The 49ers are hiring Daniel Bullocks as their assistant secondary coach, per Marvez (Twitter link). Bullocks worked in the same role for Jacksonville last season, and previously coached in the collegiate ranks.