The Vikings appear to be giving serious consideration to adding veteran cornerback Lito Sheppard, according to NFL sources.
Sheppard, who played for the New York Jets last season after seven years with Philadelphia, visited with the Lions last week but left Detroit without signing. At the time, Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network reported the Vikings, Lions, Bears and Raiders also could emerge as suitors for Sheppard.
With Cedric Griffin recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the NFC title game and Antoine Winfield coming off a season in which he missed time because of a broken foot, the cornerback position is one at which the Vikings are expected to add depth in this week's draft.
Several mock drafts have the Vikings taking a cornerback in the first round Thursday with the 30th-overall pick. However, there is a possibility if they signed Sheppard that would give the Vikings more options with their top choice. One scenario would be the ability for the Vikings to trade down and get additional selections.
Minnesota is known to like Virginia cornerback Chris Cook but he is considered a likely second-round selection. There is also a chance the Vikings could wait on Sheppard to see how the draft unfolds and then try to sign them. The issue, if they wait, is that the Lions or other teams could get engaged in the process.
Sheppard, 29, was acquired by the Jets from the Eagles for a fourth-round pick, but battled injuries and was benched in New York's 30-17 loss to Indianapolis in the AFC title game. He played in 11 regular-season games with the Jets and started nine, recording one interception and 31 tackles. Sheppard is familiar with Vikings coach Brad Childress and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier from their time together in Philadelphia.
A first-round pick (26th overall) in 2002, Sheppard was named to the Pro Bowl in 2004 and 2006 and was an All-Pro selection in 2004. Childress was the Eagles' offensive coordinator when Sheppard arrived and Frazier worked with the Eagles defensive back during Sheppard's rookie season.
Sheppard has 19 career interceptions, getting a career-high six in 2006 and five in 2004 (including two he returned for touchdowns). The Jets declined to pick up a $10 million roster bonus that Sheppard was due in March. Even if he isn't a full-time starter, Sheppard could be used in nickel situations.