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Free Agency Primer 2016: Cornerback

Posted Mar 7, 2016

With Powers testing market, Cardinals could need replacement opposite Peterson

The Cardinals’ front office is surveying the free agent landscape, hoping to complement a core which went 13-3 last season and advanced to the NFC Championship game. Free agency begins on March 9, and we’ll break down the team’s needs at each position leading up to the signing period.

More free agent analysis: TE I RB I QB I WR I OL I ST I LB I DL I S

Free agent primer: Cornerback

Cap numbers of players under contract for 2016: Patrick Peterson ($13.1 million); Justin Bethel ($3.25 million); Shaun Prater ($675,000); Taylor Boggs ($600,000); Cariel Brooks ($525,000); Carrington Byndom ($525,000); Kevin White ($450,000); Joel Wilkinson ($450,000)

Scheduled free agents: Jerraud Powers; Corey White

Need: Medium

Analysis: Patrick Peterson established himself as one of the league’s top cornerbacks in 2015, and he will man an outside spot for many years to come in Arizona. The cornerback position opposite him is in flux with Jerraud Powers hitting free agency. Powers isn’t the same quality of player as Peterson, but he was a steady piece over the past three seasons. If he leaves, the Cardinals must decide whether Justin Bethel is ready to assume full-time starting cornerback duties or if he is better used in a complementary role. Bethel played well early in the season when filling in for Powers, but struggled a bit down the stretch.

The Cardinals have been active in adding cornerbacks this offseason, re-signing Cariel Brooks and adding Asa Jackson and former Australian Rules football player Joel Wilkinson, among others, to compete for a roster spot.  There are some intriguing names in free agency, although cornerback is one of the game’s premier positions and it can get expensive when trying to sign one.

Since safety Tyrann Mathieu is versatile enough to play slot cornerback, the Cardinals have two of the NFL’s best players matching up with wide receivers much of the time during games. Now they must decide what to do in the other cornerback spot. Powers might look for greener pastures elsewhere, which means Bethel, a free agent addition or a draft pick could be the replacement in 2016.

Notable past free agent CB signings by the Cardinals: Antonio Cromartie (2014); Powers (2013); Antoine Cason (2013); William Gay (2012); Bryant McFadden (2009); Roderick Hood (2007); Ralph Brown (2007); David Macklin (2004); Duane Starks (2002).

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