The departure of free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie has opened the door for a fun competition to watch at starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. It will feature 2013 starter Jerraud Powers and two-time special teams Pro Bowler Justin Bethel.
Based on comments by both head coach Bruce Arians and former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, now head coach of the New York Jets (where Cromartie signed), Bethel isn't quite there yet to be a starter.
Arians, speaking to the media on Wednesday at breakfast, said Bethel "will have to work his tail off" to take over for Cromartie. Arians has been on the record as saying Powers was the best cornerback on the field in 2014.
Bowles had even more praise for Powers. "Powers is tough," he said at the owners meetings on Tuesday. "You keep forgetting about Powers. Powers is one of the best guys back there. He doesn't get the credit. It's going to be tough beating Powers out."
Powers' versatility is valuable. He can play anywhere you ask him -- corner, slot or safety.
Bowles also seemed to indicate Bethel still needs some work.
We all know how physically gifted he is. That is not the question.
"He has unbelievable talent," Bowles said. "He just has to learn the game mentally a little bit. When he gets the mental part of the game down he's going to be a very tough guy to beat. He's just got to get the mental part down."
If Bethel does get that aspect down, watch out. But until then, you have to figure Powers has the inside track. With the exception of last season, he has been a starter in the NFL his whole career. He started for Arizona in 2013. Yes, he was very effective in the slot last season, but the team might want to see Tyrann Mathieu there again this season.
Regardless of the outcome, it will be one of the bigger competitions this offseason for the Cardinals.