Will veteran cornerback Terence Newman want to return next season? That is something the Minnesota Vikings are likely going to discuss with him this offseason as free agency continues to approach. Newman is 37 years old, will be 38 on Sept. 4, and could very well choose to retire this offseason.
Newman has proved that he is not the same as most players, though. He started all 16 games for the Vikings last season, although one of those games was at safety. He played at a high level and rarely got beat, showing that even though he may have lost a step, he is still able to keep up with a majority of receivers in the NFL.
If he wants to come back, it is very possible that Vikings would welcome him back for another season, but there are a couple obstacles in the way, one of which is deciding where he would play.
The Vikings drafted Trae Waynes in the first round last year and had him sit behind Newman and Xavier Rhodes to develop his abilities, but Waynes did see some action and appeared to play at a high level when given the chance. Waynes will more than likely be the starting cornerback next season and you can be sure Newman wouldn’t want to come back just to sit on the bench.
There is another option of where he could play, though, and that is safety. He filled in there for one game last season when the team’s safeties got depleted by injury and he handled himself well. Before that game Newman even informed Viking Update that he thought safety was an easier position for him to play than cornerback.
The Vikings are in need of a starting safety to line up next to Harrison Smith, and Newman re-signs with the Vikings in 2016 it is possible Smith and Newman could be paired together.
At the age of 38, the thing that will be scrutinized the most about Newman is his speed. He played well last year, recording 62 tackles, three interceptions and 12 pass deflections. Still, the question is when will father time finally catch up to him and make him a liability in pass coverage.
That is another reason why the switch to safety could work for a player like Newman. Safeties do not need to rely on their speed as often as cornerbacks, and players can usually play later into their careers as a safety than they can at cornerback.
Contract considerations: The question then becomes, if the Vikings want to re-sign Newman, how much money do they offer him? They signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.25 million with $750,000 guaranteed a year ago and it is likely he would make the same amount again. After all, his 72 tackles, one interception and 14 pass deflections in 2014 were very similar to what he recorded last season.
Let’s also look at what players similar to his 2015 production are making. Newman received a 76.3 overall grade by Pro Football Focus following the season, making him the No. 39 cornerback in the NFL.
One player to look at would be Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes. He recorded 49 tackles, four interceptions and 14 pass deflections in 2015 and was rated as the 41st cornerback by PFF with a grade of 74.8.
In 2014, the Dolphins gave Grimes a four-year extension worth $32 million ($8 million a year) with $16 million fully guaranteed. Now it is also important to remember that Grimes is only 32, five years younger than Newman is, so Newman won’t make that kind of money in 2016.
Another player who graded out close to Newman is San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock, who was the 36th-rated cornerback in the NFL with a 77.7 grade. In 2013, Brock received a four-year extension worth $14 million ($3.5 million a year) with $4.55 million guaranteed.
This number is likely closer to what Newman would receive from the Vikings, but it is once again important to factor age into this since that will be the biggest factor when looking at Newman. Brock is currently 27 years old, which meant he was 25 when he received this contract extension, 12 years younger than Newman.
When taking age, production and the possibility of changing positions, the player most similar to Newman is probably Charles Woodson of the Oakland Raiders. Woodson did announce that 2015 was his final season, but he signed a one-year deal with the Raiders for the 2015 season worth $3.2 million with $1.4 million guaranteed.
Woodson was 38 when he signed that deal, but he was also coming off a season where he recorded 112 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery, four interceptions and eight pass breakups.
While Newman did not have the same type of production last year that Woodson did in 2014, it is important to remember that they were playing two different positions. Woodson was lined up as a safety in 2014, which means he is bound to record more tackles because he isn’t responsible for just one player on the majority of the plays.
Newman may not make the same amount Woodson did last year, but it is possible that the Vikings could offer him up a little more than they did in 2015, especially if they feel he can come in, switch to safety and provide them with stability on the back end.