One of the confusing aspects of the Minnesota Vikings offseason involved a highly productive cornerback who was allowed to walk away in free agency to the Las Vegas Raiders.
His name was Duke Shelley, now a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Duke Shelley Had Wrong Kind of Highlight in First Raiders Game
Shelley signed with the Raiders for one year and $1.3 million, a contract the Vikings easily could’ve afforded back in March. But Minnesota evidently wasn’t interested in a second year of Shelley’s services, and the 26-year-old trekked to the AFC.
Well, unfortunately for his sake, in his first game as a Raider, albeit preseason, Shelley fired up the wrong kind of highlight. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance dimed a poor pass toward the endzone, through Shelley’s grasp, off wideout Chris Conley, into the arms of Ross Dwelley — for a San Francisco score. It was bizarre and wild. Have a look below:
Shelley is locked in a roster battle to make the 53-man cut-off at the end of the month, and bungling the would-be interception didn’t help. The Raiders won convincingly, though, 34-7.
The former Viking took over starter’s duties after injuries to Cameron Dantzler, Akayleb Evans, and Andrew Booth in 2022, and before too long, his emergence felt like a classic example of addition by subtraction. The man flourished inside Ed Donatell’s 2022 defense — to the tune of the NFL’s fourth-best corner, according to Pro Football Focus, with an 82.9 grade.
Then, this offseason, Minnesota said goodbye to CBs Shelley, Patrick Peterson, Chandon Sullivan, Kris Boyd, and the aforementioned Dantzler while onboarding veteran free agents Byron Murphy and Joejuan Wiliams, plus rookie Mekhi Blackmon from the 2023 NFL Draft. Many fans wondered why Shelley wouldn’t be granted a purple sequel in 2023, but that question remains unanswered.
Shelley will hope to put the dropped pick behind him and vie for roster security in the Raiders final two preseason games. Here’s the current lay of the land in Las Vegas at CB:
CB1: Marcus Peters
CB2: Nate Hobbs
CB3: Brandon Facyson
CB4: Jakorian Bennett
CB5: Amik Robertson
CB6: Tyler Hall
CB7: Ike Brown
CB8: Duke Shelley
CB9: Sam Webb
CB10: Bryce Cosby
CB11: David Long Sr.
CB12: Azizi Hearn
So — not ideal for Shelley, at least not per the first ‘unofficial’ depth chart.
If Shelley is cut, he’ll hit free agency, and Vikings fans are nearly assured to vociferously call for a reunion. But if the club didn’t re-sign him for cheap in March, it doesn’t quite make sense why they’d get inspired in August.
The Raiders take on the Los Angeles Rams this Saturday night in Preseason Game No. 2.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).