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Free Agent Primer 2022: Cornerback

Cardinals need to upgrade at the coverage position

CB FA primer

During the official Super Bowl handoff ceremony last month, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill expressed his Super Bowl aspirations for the 2022 season. Cardinals GM Steve Keim must fill several holes on the roster this offseason to make that happen. With the free agency period beginning on March 16, the fifth position group breakdown is here.

Free-agent primer: Cornerback

Other free-agent primers: WR, S, ST, TE

Cap hit of players under contract for 2022 (via CB Byron Murphy Jr. ($3.49 million), CB Marco Wilson ($987,000), CB Jace Whittaker ($895,000), CB Breon Borders ($895,000), CB Nate Brooks ($825,000)

Scheduled free agents: CB Robert Alford, CB Antonio Hamilton.

Need: High

Analysis: Cornerback is the most crucial position group the Cardinals must address in free agency.

After missing two consecutive seasons with injuries, Robert Alford had a solid 2021 campaign, but the injury bug hit the veteran again during the latter part of the season. Cornerback Byron Murphy had a decent first year replacing Patrick Peterson as the top corner on the outside, although Murphy is best when operating from the slot.

There will be several options on the scheduled free agency list, including Pro Bowl cornerbacks J.C. Jackson (Patriots) and Stephon Gilmore (Panthers). Their price tag won't be cheap, however, either one would significantly elevate the Cardinals' secondary.

The Cardinals could re-sign cornerback Antonio Hamilton as an insurance policy and draft another young cornerback in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. The lack of depth at the position hurt the Cardinals late in the season.

Notable past free agent cornerback signings: Alford (2019); Bené Benwikere (2018); Tramon Williams (2017); Antonio Cromartie (2014); Jerraud Powers (2013); Antoine Cason (2013); William Gay (2012); Bryant McFadden (2009); Roderick Hood (2007); Ralph Brown (2007); David Macklin (2004); Duane Starks (2002).

Images of some of the top free agent cornerbacks scheduled to hit the top of the market