EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- When the Minnesota Vikings began contract negotiations with cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, they were initially looking for a longer deal than the three-year contract worth up to $15 million that they eventually gave him.
Munnerlyn liked the Vikings, had heard good things about them from former college roommate Jasper Brinkley, but had another reason for wanting a shorter contract: He was essentially betting on his own ability to get more money down the road.
"[I wanted] to get another contract before I’m 30," he said. "That was the key -- just to go out here for three years and see if I can win them over a little bit more, get an extension after Year 2 or something. Just try to go out here and make plays and win games."
Time will tell if that was the best strategy for Munnerlyn, but it does reflect a bit of the edginess that has gotten the 5-foot-9 cornerback from the seventh round of the draft to this point. Vikings fullback Jerome Felton, his former teammate with the Carolina Panthers, called Munnerlyn a "bulldog" in a tweet on Thursday, and Munnerlyn said he's patterned his game after former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, who also stands 5-9 and played bigger than that.
"I’m tough and I’m feisty and I love getting after people," Munnerlyn said."That’s what I do. I get after people and I don’t shy down from nobody. I don’t care if you’re a 6-7, 6-8 lineman, I’m not shying down from. I going to try to make plays and I’m going to hit you."
If his feisty approach sounds similar to the one taken by new coach Mike Zimmer, Munnerlyn recognized it, too. "I think I’ve met my match. We’re a perfect match for each other, man. I’m excited about that," he said.
They'll both be counted on to help refine a defense that allowed more points than any in the league last season, largely because of its leaky secondary. Munnerlyn said he expects to start in the Vikings' base defense and move inside on third downs, which is what he said he'd done with the Panthers. And while he hadn't seen where the Vikings' defense ranked last season, he vowed it wouldn't stay that way for long.
"It’s just in the back end, I think we’ve just got to make more plays on the ball. I think that’s why they signed me and I’m sure they’ll probably some more guys or bring some more guys in or something," Munnerlyn said. "I’m sure with these signings and with these people they [brought] in, we’ll [be] ranked in the top 10."