The Vikings' need for a cornerback is obvious with Antoine Winfield turning 33 this summer and Cedric Griffin tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans.
Winfield also missed six games with a fractured foot, which continued to limit his effectiveness into the playoffs, and Griffin may not be ready for game action until after the season starts.
All of this leads to how the Vikings will try to cover those limitations, along with letting Benny Sapp and Karl Paymah test the free-agent market (they don't appear to have any interest in bringing back Paymah).
While the 2010 draft is considered deep at cornerback, the first avenue for roster-building is through free agency. The Vikings are limited in who they can sign – as a final-four team in the playoffs, they can't sign any unrestricted free agents until they lose one of their own, and even then their new player has to be making an equal or lesser amount than the player they lost.
However, those restrictions don't apply to players that were released (street free agents) or restricted free agents that weren't tendered by their team. Cornerback Marlin Jackson falls into that second category as a former Indianapolis Colt, and the Star Tribune reported that the Vikings have an interest in him, which makes sense given defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's familiarity with the former first-round draft pick from their days together as coach and player in Indianapolis under head coach Tony Dungy.
Eric Hartz of ColtPower.com on the Scout.com network offered his opinions on Jackson, who sounds like a perfect fit for the Vikings' ideal of a run-supporting cornerback. Here is what Hartz had to say:
Jackson was a solid contributor for the Colts in 2006 and 2007, before a torn ACL suffered in practice in 2008 put him on injured reserve. The Colts called it a "freak" injury, as it happened in a non-contact drill, but another knee injury in 2009 ended his season again.
Jackson is a physical player and is capable of switching back and forth between the safety and corner position. Although he started at cornerback when healthy, the Colts often moved him inside on the slot receiver in their nickel package to get him closer to the line of scrimmage. He's a solid tackler and before his injury one of the better corners in the league against the run.
Jackson will always have a spot in Colts' history for his interception of Tom Brady that clinched the 2006 AFC Championship for the Colts, and many fans will be sad to see him go. Off the field, he's a solid citizen and well-respected in the locker room and in the community, even co-hosting a weekly football highlights show during the season.
It's difficult to predict how his career will go from here since we've seen so little of him on the field for the last 18 months or so. Much depends on how his knees hold up, but a nickel role covering slot receivers — much like the Colts often utilized him here in Indianapolis — or a move back to safety seem like possible options.
Eric Hartz is the publisher of ColtPower.com.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
CB Jackson sounds like perfect fit
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