Mackensie Alexander returns with Minnesota Vikings after one season


MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Vikings continued to head into their high school on Friday by bringing back a familiar face.

Mackensie Alexander, who spent the first four seasons of his career in Minnesota after being drafted by the Vikings in 2016, agreed to terms with his former team, according to a tweet from his agent, Neil Schwartz. Alexander is expected to sign a one-year contract worth the veteran minimum and an undisclosed signing bonus, according to league sources.

Alexander, 27, is the Vikings’ second addition to their secondary since the start of free agency. Cornerback Patrick Peterson signed a one-year deal worth $ 10 million.

Alexander returns to Minnesota after a season in Cincinnati. A former second-round pick, he started in 10 of his 13 appearances while replacing outgoing free agent Darqueze Dennard as the team’s slot cornerback in defensive packages that included at least five defensive running backs during the 2020 season.

His only interception last season came in the Bengals ‘first win over the rival Steelers since 2015. Despite a string of solid performances, however, Alexander did not seem to fit in with the Bengals’ coaching staff.

Alexander’s advanced metrics were in the middle of the bunch, among others who mostly play the slot machine corner. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Alexander had a 68.4 completion percentage when he was the closest defender, which was 2% worse than expected. He also had a 45.6% coverage success rate, which was slightly below the league average for ranked cornerbacks.

During his first season in Minnesota, Alexander had 103 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two interceptions and 21 passes defended and started 10 of 55 games. Although he consistently lined up as an outside corner at Clemson, where he allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 29.6 percent of his passes but did not allow a touchdown, Alexander transformed into a slot corner in Minnesota and eventually replaced Terence Newman as the team starting nickel corner. in 2019.

The addition of Alexander provides the Vikings with flexibility in high school. Minnesota has used both Jeff Gladney and Mike Hughes in the corner of the slot and could have some competition at the position alongside Alexander. Peterson said earlier this week that “the plan” is for him to play cornerback at Minnesota despite speculation about a possible move by the Pro Bowler to safety. The Vikings still have a chance to fill against Harrison Smith at free safety after Anthony Harris signed with the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Alexander made headlines last August when he left Camp Bengals for Florida after his father disappeared while picking berries with a family friend. Alexander was arrested for a misdemeanor assault, which was later dismissed, for allegedly striking the family friend. His father was found alive.

ESPN’s Ben Baby contributed to this report.

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