The departure of cornerback Antonio Cromartie opens things up in the secondary a bit. Cromartie was the clear starter opposite Patrick Peterson and that shifted Jerraud Powers over to playing nickel cornerback full time. With Cromartie now gone, it appears there will be come competition in two spots.
First of all, Cromartie's spot is now open.
Who will be the starting CB2?
The veteran leader of the secondary, Rashad Johnson, suggested it might be Powers in a tweet.
Powers had a great season in the slot. In fact, head coach Bruce Arians told reporter Darren Urban Powers played the best of any cornerback in 2014.
At the same time, Arians has been very high on the talent of special teams ace Justin Bethel, evem saying he has the talent to be the best cornerback -- better than even Patrick Peterson.
Bethel showed some confidence in a tweet after the news of Cromartie heading to the Jets came out.
Time to take the spot I already thought was mine. #nextlevel— Justin bethel (@Jbet26) March 12, 2015
That ill be a fun competition to watch between Powers and Bethel.
Who gets the job at CB2 also will affect the direction at slot cornerback.
Last year it was Powers, who has a great year. Arians called him a defensive MVP, along with safety Rashad Johnson.
But Tyrann Mathieu has to be in the mix again. Mathieu's rookie season was dynamic playing base downs at safety and playing in the slot in sub packages.
That didn't happen a season ago with Cromartie and Powers playing well. Mathieu played safety in sub packages.
A healthy Mathieu from Day 1 changes things.
Will he play safety full time, or will he play in the slot, where many believe, including people within the Cardinals organization, he will be a difference maker?
But if Mathieu plays in the slot and Bethel wins the CB2 job, then Powers is left with his $4+ million salary and salary cap of more than $5 million to sit on the bench.
If the team wants Mathieu as a full time safety, it actually makes things a little easier at cornerback. Powers could win the starting job, but slide over to the slot in sub packages, with Bethel coming in and playing on the outside. Powers would play pretty much every down.
If Bethel wins the job, then he plays mostly every down and Powers plays the role he did in 2014.
Powers is more than capable of being a starter. He was the starter in 2013 and was a starter in Indianapolis before signing with the Cardinals.
Bethel has a boatload of potential and athleticism.
Who will it be and how will Mathieu fit in? These will be interesting things to watch once the offseason unfolds.