NFL

Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn sets sail back to Carolina

Oct 2, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (24) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 2, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (24) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings' defense will need a new commanding officer.

Slot cornerback Captain Munnerlyn signed with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent Saturday, returning to the team that drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

The contract is a four-year deal worth $21 million ($10.5 million of it guaranteed), according to the cornerback.

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Munnerlyn spent five seasons with the Panthers before signing with the Minnesota in 2014, becoming an integral part of head coach Mike Zimmer's revamped Vikings defense during his three seasons with the team.

A high ankle sprain limited Munnerlyn to nine starts last season, but the veteran produced, defending three passes and forcing a fumble.

Prior to 2016, Munnerlyn had registered two interceptions in four straight seasons.

With the departure of Munnerlyn, the Vikings' secondary should look a bit different next year.

Xavier Rhodes returns after a career season, but with Terence Newman, who will be 39 in September, a free agent, third-year corner Trae Waynes and second-year corner Mackenzie Alexander stand to be in line to start opposite Rhodes and play in Munnerlyn's inside spot if the team's elder statesman opts to move on or retire.