Buchanon and Lloyd said to be drawing interest from Vikings
Largely quiet thus far, the Vikings finally made the public radar with rumored interest in a pair of free agents - veteran cornerback Phillip Buchanon (recently released by the Detroit Lions) and kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd (an unrestricted free agent most recently with Carolina).
Buchanon was originally a first-round pick (No. 17 overall) by the Oakland Raiders in 2002. After three seasons in Oakland, he was traded to the Houston Texans for second- and third-round picks in 2005. He spent two years in Houston before being released in 2006. He subsequently signed with Tampa Bay, where he re-established himself as a starter opposite Ronde Barber. He started all 16 games and had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown with the Bucs.
Tampa wanted to re-sign him, but Buchanon wanted a clear chance to start. Thus Buchanon's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, landed him a lucrative two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions last season.
He started 11 of 13 games with the Lions, compiling 43 tackles, one sack, four pass breakups and two forced fumbles. But he struggled with injuries throughout the season. He entered the regular season with a neck problem, then battled a knee injury, then suffered a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder in Week 15.
When healthy, Buchanon is a quick, fast, athletic cover corner who may have had his best success playing in the Tampa-2 scheme with the Buccaneers. He would provide the Vikings with a strong, veteran insurance policy at right cornerback until Cedric Griffin is able to return to full strength after blowing out his knee in the NFC Championship game.
Money will be an issue, and other teams (Bengals) have also reportedly expressed interest. But Buchanon would be a good fit in Minnesota, and the team appears to also have a good rapport with his agent, Rosenhaus. Signing Buchanon would at least enable the Vikings to enter the draft without a pressing need at cornerback.
Former Minnesota Gophers kicker Rhys Lloyd was also reported to be at Winter Park on Monday.
Lloyd has been primarily a kickoff specialist. After a brief stint with Baltimore in 2007, he joined the Carolina Panthers, where he served exclusively as their kickoff specialist in 2008 and 2009.
The Panthers did not extend him an offer as a restricted free agent, essentially making him unrestricted.
The Vikings are set with Ryan Longwell as their placekicker. Longwell converted 26 of 28 field goal attempts this past season, but had just five touchbacks on 98 kickoffs. Lloyd, meanwhile, hammered 21 of 72 kickoffs for touchbacks last season. He had 30 touchbacks on 88 kickoffs in 2008.
Given the nature of specialization in the game these days, and the fact that you can only dress 45 players each week, the ability to do at least one thing extremely well may have increased value to the Vikings at this point.
The addition of Lloyd would also save a little bit on the wear and tear for Longwell over the course of the season.
On the surface at least, the apparent interest in both Buchanon and Lloyd by the Vikings at this point would seem to make perfect sense. Neither are the big-name prospects that most fans are always looking for, but both could fill clear, specific roles for the Vikings in 2010.
Kevin Brown has been providing personnel analysis and writing about the Vikings for more than 20 years with Viking Update. Follow VU on Twitter and discuss this and other topics on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Update: According to his Twitter page, Lloyd has signed with the Vikings.