The Vikings have brought back a Mike Zimmer mainstay. The team announced today that veteran corner Terence Newman will return for his fourth year in Minnesota and 16th overall. The details of the contract have yet to be released.
Newman will join a defensive backfield that will be almost identical to what he knew last year, with one dramatic difference. First round selection Mike Hughes figures to play a role in the Vikings’ gameplan right away. That will likely include a lot of snaps at nickel, where Newman primarily played in 2017. But Zimmer also insinuated that they would utilize Hughes in a variety of packages, including four-corner looks. His exact quote was:
“…You can never have too many good corners. There’s a commercial on TV, actually right now, the lady asks this guy, ‘How many guns do you need?’ and he says, ‘Just one more.’ That’s how we feel about corners. Just one more.”
And Newman provides that “one more.” He took the majority of the nickel snaps in 2017. But with this season being a crucial development year for Mackensie Alexander, Newman will likely see a steep cut in plays in 2018. He will, after all, turn 40 in September.
His greatest attributes will be his experience and bringing along the younger guys. Hughes and Newman have similar physical, tenacious styles that compensate for lack of size. Alexander and Trae Waynes took steps in progression last year with Newman still a significant part of the gameplan. So one would assume that Newman’s de facto coaching role played and will continue to play a role in all three players’ development.
But on top of that, Newman showed last year that he still has plenty left in the tank. He allowed 57.4 percent completion in 2017 on 97 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. Also, given that Zimmer tends to bring rookie defensive backs along slowly (see Alexander in 2016 and Waynes in 2015), Hughes may see less playing time than some fans would expect. To put it simply, Newman could still be the number one nickel on the depth chart when camp breaks.
It may only be for one more year, but one has to tip the hat to Newman’s longevity. Continuing to play, and play well, at a position of prime athleticism at his age is beyond commendable. A Zimmer roster sans-Newman has been a rarity. Fortunately for the Vikings coach, he can put off that heartbreak for one more year.
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