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Vikings don’t think Jeff Gladney’s release will impact defense

The Vikings made cornerback Jeff Gladney a first-round pick in 2020 and players selected in that point in the proceedings are usually expected to play leading roles for their teams in the years to come.

Gladney seemed to be on that path as a rookie as he started 15 games in the Minnesota secondary, but he won’t have a chance to build on that in 2021. Gladney is a free agent after being released by the Vikings in the wake of this week’s indictment on a domestic violence charge.

While Gladney’s draft position suggested big plans for the future, Vikings co-defensive coordinator Andre Pattersons said on Wednesday that his absence won’t impact the present. Patterson said that is because Gladney has been away from the team since the April arrest.

“It’s sad to say, but the NFL is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ . . . The train keeps moving,” Patterson said, via Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It never stops for anybody. That’s just the way this league is. He hasn’t been here, he hasn’t been practicing, so he hasn’t been around our group.”

The Vikings were already working to upgrade their cornerback crew before Gladney’s arrest. They signed Patrick Peterson and Mackensie Alexander in March and then signed Bashaud Breeland, Parry Nickerson, Tye Smith, and Amari Henderson later in the offseason.

The initial plan may have been to have some of those guys alongside Gladney, but plans change and the Vikings will have to put together the unit without their 2020 first-round pick.