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The Athletic Suggests the Vikings Trade for a Dolphins CB — But Not the One You Think

Could the Vikings explore a trade for recent Miami first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene?

The November 2nd NFL trade deadline is just a week away, and there's been plenty of speculation in Vikings internet circles about whether or not the team should make a move to add cornerback depth.

With Patrick Peterson on injured reserve for at least the next three games with a hamstring injury, the Vikings are down to Cameron Dantzler and Bashaud Breeland at outside corner. Both players have shown flashes at times but have been highly inconsistent. Back in Week 1, Dantzler was a healthy scratch and Breeland may have cost the Vikings the game with a horrific performance. Given Peterson's injury, would Rick Spielman give up a draft pick or two to bring in some additional depth at Mike Zimmer's favorite position? 

The biggest name that comes up in those discussions is Xavien Howard, the disgruntled Dophins CB who was a first team All-Pro last year after a 10-interception season. Howard has wanted out of Miami since this offseason, and with the Dolphins off to a 1-6 start, there's no reason why they shouldn't be willing to trade him for the right return.

However, I'd be shocked if the Vikings dealt for Howard. At 3-3, they're not exactly in a position to go all-in as buyers. Plus, Howard's cap hit this year is over $15 million, his $13 million 2022 salary is fully guaranteed, and he's missed some time due to injury in the past. The Vikings don't have the salary cap space to take on his contract without moving some things around or having the Dolphins retain salary, and I don't think Spielman would want to give up a decent draft pick just to pay the 28-year-old Howard a lot of money.

Even someone like the Broncos' Kyle Fuller, who is also rumored to be available after falling out of favor in Denver, has a cap hit of over $9 million and could be tricky to afford.

What if the Vikings decided to pursue a different Dolphins cornerback? That's exactly what The Athletic's Chad Graff suggested in a mailbag this week.

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Here’s a more realistic trade I’d like to see the Vikings make: send picks in the fifth and sixth rounds to the Miami Dolphins — not for Howard, but for Noah Igbinoghene. The cornerback was taken with the 30th pick in 2020, one spot before the Vikings picked Jeff Gladney.

But Igbinoghene’s time in Miami hasn’t gone as planned, and he’s been a healthy scratch in all but two games this season. The proper value for him would probably be a fourth-round pick considering C.J. Henderson (the No. 9 pick in that draft and also a cornerback) went for a third-round selection and a depth tight end and because former Vikings first-round pick and cornerback Mike Hughes went for a sixth-round pick. Igbinoghene’s situation is somewhere between those two, and his trade value would probably be as well. But the Vikings don’t have their fourth-round pick, which was sent to the Jets for Chris Herndon before the season began, so we packaged two Day 3 picks instead.

Because Igbinoghene is still on his rookie deal, the Vikings could fit him under the cap with ease, and he’d also give them a cornerback under team control for multiple years, which would be useful since the only corners the Vikings have signed through 2023 are Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand.

I love this idea. Igbinoghene has barely played since the Dolphins drafted him in the first round last year, making his first and only appearance of the 2021 season in Week 6 when Howard and Byron Jones were both out. "Although coaches have spoken frequently about his development, it’s been clear since he was drafted there’s no real plan for him," wrote Dolphins reporter Zac Boyer.

Igbinoghene was a raw prospect heading into last year's draft. A former wide receiver, he only played corner for two seasons at Auburn. The physical tools are clearly there, but Igbinoghene needed — and still needs — plenty of development from a technical standpoint. 

If it's not working out in Miami, maybe Mike Zimmer and Karl Scott could help Igbinoghene reach his ceiling. This trade would be less about this season and more about the future. The Vikings clearly need more long-term options at cornerback beyond Dantzler and Hand, with veteran starters Peterson, Breeland, and Mackensie Alexander all currently on one-year deals. Instead of waiting until the draft to address that issue, why not make a deal for Igbinoghene now and start developing the former first-rounder in Zimmer's system?

To be clear, Graff's idea is just speculation and shouldn't be treated as a rumor or anything that's likely to happen. But I think it's an interesting idea and something the Vikings should consider if they're looking to add at the cornerback position.

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