The Vikings' rebuilt secondary is complete. After signing cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander, they've added former Cowboys safety Xavier Woods to play opposite Harrison Smith, as first reported by Ian Rapaport of NFL Network. It's a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1.75 million, and Woods can make up to $2.25 million with incentives.
This is some nice value for the Vikings late in free agency. Woods turns 26 this summer and has been impressive in four seasons with the Cowboys. He replaces Anthony Harris and is the final puzzle piece in what looks like a very strong secondary.
A sixth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech in 2017, Woods immediately turned out to be a great pick by Dallas. He earned his way onto the field as a rookie, starting four games and playing nearly 600 snaps with good results. He became a full-time starter for the next three years, only missing four games over that period.
Woods had a PFF grade above 70 in each of his first three seasons. He struggled a bit in 2020, but the overall defensive situation around him may have contributed to that — similar to what happened to Harris in Minnesota. In 2018 and 2019, Woods had multiple interceptions while allowing a passer rating below 63.0 in both seasons.
Woods is a very solid safety with good athleticism and an all-around skillset that Mike Zimmer will love. He has excellent quickness, which he showed in his three-cone and short shuttle times at the 2017 combine. At his best, Woods is excellent in coverage and can be relied upon to step up in the running game and make tackles. He can even contribute as a blitzer periodically.
This is a strong pickup for the Vikings. Harris getting $5 million from the Eagles on a one-year deal was excellent value, but Minnesota landing Woods for just a $1.75 million cap hit is excellent value too. He should be in line for a bounce-back season playing opposite Smith.
The Vikings' secondary was an issue last year, as Harris struggled and cornerbacks dropped like flies. They finished 25th in passing yards allowed per game.
It's safe to say they've addressed that weakness this offseason. Here's what the secondary looks like now.
- Safety: Harrison Smith, Xavier Woods
- Outside corner: Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, Jeff Gladney, Mike Hughes
- Nickel corner: Mackensie Alexander
Yeah, that'll work.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all offseason long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.