Benny Sapp turned into a nice insurance policy for the Vikings the last two years, but as the team increased its depth and talent at cornerback, this offseason especially, he became more expendable.
Sapp originally signed with the Vikings as an unrestricted free agent in 2008 and was active for 14 games, making four starts, including three in a row as a nickel back. He tied for the team high in interceptions with two that year.
Last year, his role increased even more when Antoine Winfield missed six straight games because of a fractured foot, forcing Sapp into a starting spot at left cornerback. During that span, he had 25 tackles, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He ended up starting a career-high seven games.
When Sapp first came to the Vikings from the Kansas City Chiefs, he quickly gained the reputation as a risk-taker, something the Vikings try to avoid with their Cover-2 secondary scheme. But he found that the fewer risks he took, the more the coaches could trust him.
However, with Winfield's foot problems last year and starting right cornerback Cedric Griffin's torn anterior cruciate ligament in the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 24, the Vikings were clearly on a mission to boost depth in the secondary during the offseason.
They drafted Chris Cook in the second round and signed former Eagles Pro Bowler Lito Sheppard as a free agent. In addition to the maturation of 2009 third-round draft choice Asher Allen, Sapp had fallen to essentially a third-team cornerback in the Vikings' training camp this year.
He also wasn't helped by the fact that he suffered heat stroke on opening weekend, a complication that resulted in a trip to the hospital and a week's worth of missed practices.