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Arizona Cardinals offseason: Looking at the CB situation

One big question, lots of bodies.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals actually are not in a terrible spot at the cornerback position. It is nothing like where the team is at with the outside linebacker position. There is really only one big question, and that can even be seen as a luxury. Let's look ahead.

The roster:

The Cardinals have a big group of corners on the roster after only carrying four for much of the year. For much of the season, all they had was Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, Jerraud Powers and Justin Bethel. As of now, they have eight under control, at least for a little while longer.

Here is how the roster stands right now:

Justin Bethel, signed through 2015
Rashad Carmichael, signed to future contract, Cards have control through 2015
Antonio Cromartie, will be unrestricted free agent
Jimmy Legree, signed to future contract, under control through 2016
Patrick Peterson, signed through 2020
Jerraud Powers, signed through 2015
Ross Weaver, signed to future contract, under control through 2016
Darren Woodard, signed to future contract, under control through 2016

Looking back at 2014:

Overall, it was a good year at the position. They added Antonio Cromartie in the offseason on a one-year deal, giving the team essentially two number one cover guys with him and Peterson.

Peterson signed a big contract extension.

Jerraud Powers, a starter in 2013, played fantastically in the slot and was called one of the team's defensive MVPs more than once during the season. He picked off three passes. His play was big for multiple reasons, most importantly because it allowed the team to bring back Tyrann Mathieu more slowly. Powers was so good in the slot, Mathieu only saw time there because of injury to Cromartie during one game.

Cromartie, Peterson and Bethel all represented the Cardinals in the Pro Bowl, but Bethel was on the squad as a special teamer. Cro played solid most of the year, but did have a couple of forgettable games.

Peterson's season was marked by inconsistency, which frustrated many fans because of his talk of being the best and the big contract he got. He was injured a little early on, then played some lights out football, but also had moments where he didn't seem to be focused.

He also provided one of the most athletic plays we have ever seen. Against the Ramshe tipped the ball to himself for an interception and ran it back for a touchdown -- it was unreal how high the level of difficulty was.

Bethel even saw a few snaps at cornerback during the season.

Looking ahead:

The question:

There is only one real question -- can the Cardinals bring back Cromartie? He showed he was still a very good corner and will command a pretty high price in free agency. He loves New York and has two teams with cap space and former coaches (Rex Ryan with the Bills and Todd Bowles with the Jets) who will want a corner of his ability.

So what do the Cardinals do if Cro leaves?

Well, Cro was almost a luxury. Powers was already a starter in 2013. He seems to be a better fit in the slot, but he is more than capable of playing as a starter, which he has done most of his career.

Tyrann Mathieu, listed as a safety, played his best football as a rookie while sliding down to play slot corner. If Cro leaves and Powers starts, it would allow Mathieu to play in that role again.

If Cro comes back, then Powers and his $5.35 million cap hit are expendable.

Then there is Justin Bethel, whom Bruce Arians has called perhaps the most talented corner on the roster. He has one year left on his contract and is rumored to be a player the Cardinals want to extend. He is already a two-time Pro Bowler on special teams. He is expected to compete with Powers for the starting job, assuming Cromartie signs elsewhere.

After that, the Cardinals will be unproven, but based on the fact they added four corners to future contracts, the team clearly sees something in these players.

Something to note about the corners on the roster. Only two are under six feet tall (Powers and Darren Woodard).

Free agency:

Adding a corner could be tough to do because of the team's salary cap situation, but there are some good ones set to hit the market. They include Darrelle Revis, Cro, Ike Taylor and others. If the Cards can't bring back Cromartie, I wouldn't expect any big splash in free agency.

NFL Draft:

This is a position the Cardinals will likely look to add. After all, aside from the untested "future contract" players, they only have Peterson signed beyond 2015. While they might like the guys they added and had on the practice squad, they won't just count on one of them becoming very good. They will have to emerge with legitimate competition ahead of them.


In summary, Arizona is not in bad shape at corner. Yes, they will want to always improve, but if it ends up being Peterson, Powers and Bethel as the main guys with Mathieu playing in the slot, there are certainly greater concerns elsewhere on the roster.