After losing Robert Alford to a season-ending pectoral tear, the Arizona Cardinals are now without a starting cornerback to play opposite Patrick Peterson.
Last season, the Cardinals turned to second-round pick Byron Murphy (5-11 190lbs) to play on the outside but he struggled greatly.
According to Pro Football Focus, the rookie was targeted 104 times, fourth-most in the NFL, and allowed the second-most completions (71).
Kliff Kingsbury and Vance Joseph strongly believe Murphy is best fit in the slot despite the fact he played very little at the position at the University of Washington.
The two other cornerbacks on the roster that played as an outside cornerback last season includes Chris Jones and Kevin Peterson.
Jones (6-0 200lbs) was a solid cover corner last season, allowing 13 receptions on 25 targets through 11 games and three starts. Peterson (5-11 185lbs) allowed 16 receptions on 22 targets. Both struggled in the tackling department and they lack experience with only six starts combined.
Kingsbury said Cardinals will peruse free agent cornerback list for possible additions following Robert Alford’s injury.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) August 18, 2020
If General Manager Steve Keim turns to the free agent market, here are some names he could consider.
Ryan (5-11 195lbs) is the best free agent defensive back in the market that is best suited to play in the slot. He had 4.5 sacks and four interceptions last season. He is a quality tackler who excels against the run and in blitz packages. He has missed only three games in his seven years in the NFL. If the Cardinals do move Murphy back to an outside cornerback, Ryan would fill the slot position nicely.
Talib (6-1 209lbs) is 34 years old and has missed a total of 19 regular season games the last two seasons. He landed on injury reserve in October with a rib injury. Although he was traded to the Dolphins and was designated to return, the team chose not to activate Talib even though he indicated he was healthy. Despite the durability concerns, he has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL over the last decade. He played for Vance Joseph back in 2017 with the Broncos and his experience in his defense should ease his transition in the desert if he lands here.
Williams (5-11 191lbs) might be 37 years old but was the 11th-best cornerback in pass coverage last season by Pro Football Focus. The Cardinals made an attempt to re-sign Williams after the 2017 season but he ultimately settled for a reunion with the Packers. He has only missed nine games since playing his first snap in the NFL back in 2007 which speaks volumes about his durability. He is a well respected leader in the NFL and can be another good mentor for the Cardinals to have in their young defensive backfield.
Vance Joseph was Kirkpatrick’s (6-2 190lbs) defensive backs coach back in the 2014 and 2015 seasons with the Bengals. He is coming off a hyperextended knee injury, which he suffered in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens that ended his 2019 season. Since being a first round pick back in 2012, he has made 296 tackles and 10 interceptions.
Other potential options: Trumaine Johnson, Brandon Carr, Ross Cockrell