The new league year -- and the vast majority of free agency -- is still more than two months away, but the Cardinals are trying to make improvements where they can right now.
On Thursday, that meant signing veteran cornerback Robert Alford to a three-year contract. Alford, going into his seventh season, was released by the Falcons in a cost-cutting move this week. He becomes the latest attempt to find a long-term starter across from Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson.
Alford, 30, said the chance to play with Peterson -- whom he called a friend -- was a big reason he wanted to sign in Arizona. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport tweeted the deal had $13.5 million in guaranteed money.
The 5-foot-10 Alford played in 88 games for a Falcons after being drafted in the second round in 2013. He has started the last 76 games in which he has appeared, with 10 interceptions. He had a 82-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
"I feel like I'm top 10 (cornerback) in this league," Alford told ESPN in December. "Last year, I was doing my thing. Came into this year, I did my thing. At the end of the day, I just have to get back to my style of play and make those plays that the team needs me to make that I've been making in the past."
In 2018, the Cardinals used three different guys as cornerback starters with Peterson -- Jamar Taylor, Bené Benwikere and David Amerson. Taylor and Benwikere were both cut before season's end.
Amerson remains on the roster. The other cornerbacks besides Peterson are all inexperienced: Chris Jones, Deatrick Nichols and Brandon Williams.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is excited to add Alford, who fits the Cardinals' man-coverage 3-4 scheme.
“He’s played at a high level for the last four or five years,” Joseph said Thursday evening on the "Big Red Rage" radio show. “He’s long. He can play press coverage. He’s smart. He loves to play football. And he wants the challenge of playing opposite of Pat. And that’s a challenge, because Pat doesn’t get much work.”