The Cardinals may have found the veteran they sought to replace the injured Robert Alford in the lineup as the No. 2 cornerback – and allow Byron Murphy to remain as the nickel cornerback where he is most comfortable.
The team signed Dre Kirkpatrick Sunday to a one-year contract, the third cornerback signed in three days following the loss of Alford. To make room on the roster, the Cardinals released cornerback Duke Thomas.
"(Dre) has had some really good years in this league," said defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who coached Kirkpatrick two seasons in Cincinnati as the Bengals' defensive backs coach. "He's excited about being here and he is obviously familiar with our system but some things have changed.
"We'll see how it shakes out."
Kirkpatrick started all six games he played for the Bengals last season before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury. He has started 67 of his 99 career games, with 10 interceptions over eight seasons.
Kirkpatrick was a one-time first-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2012, a choice acquired by Cincinnati when they traded future Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer to the Raiders. The Bengals cut him in March, and now he and Joseph are reunited.
"He was a player's coach and I feel like at this level we have to have somebody relatable," Kirkpatrick said of Joseph in 2018. "I'll always miss Vance."
Coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday the Cardinals were still working through how they were going to set up their cornerback depth chart beyond No. 1 corner Patrick Peterson. Murphy, the second-round pick in 2019, was the in-house candidate – although after playing more than 1,000 snaps as a rookie, coaches and Murphy all agreed he would be better suited to play the nickel.
With Alford returning, that made sense. Once Alford tore his pectoral muscle, Murphy was again thrust into an uncertain situation. The Cards added veterans B.W. Webb and Ken Crawley Friday to add to depth that includes Kevin Peterson and Chris Jones. Patrick Peterson also praised undrafted rookie Jace Whittaker, although Joseph cautioned it was difficult to truly judge Whittaker as a rookie in such a controlled environment.
"Obviously we have signed three veteran corners in the last two days, guys who played in games and played in big games," Joseph said. "All three of the guys have some knowledge of our system.
"Time will tell how it unfolds with the third, fourth, fifth corner spot. It's up for grabs, lot of competition happening now. That's what you want, guys to earn their way."
Images from Sunday's practice at State Farm Stadium, presented by Hyundai.