Jerraud Powers should remain in the cornerback mix for 2014.
Free agency begins on March 11. The Cardinals have many key pieces in place, but there are still needs to be addressed. We'll break it down by position over the next 10 days as unsigned NFL players prepare to hit the open market.
Free agent primer: Cornerback
Cap numbers of players under contract for 2014: Patrick Peterson ($5.86 million); Jerraud Powers ($4.75 million); Justin Bethel ($598,556).
Scheduled free agents: Antoine Cason, Javier Arenas, Bryan McCann
Analysis: Patrick Peterson is now eligible for a contract extension, and the Cardinals plan on keeping him around as their shutdown corner for a long time. Jerraud Powers is slated to start opposite him once again in 2014. Tyrann Mathieu is listed as a safety but played the majority of his snaps last year as a nickel cornerback. He is an elite player but tore knee ligaments in December and is still in the midst of a lengthy rehabilitation. Backups Antoine Cason, Javier Arenas and Bryan McCann are free agents, and the team needs to build up depth at cornerback if those players are not re-signed. Justin Bethel is a Pro Bowl special teams gunner who will give the team more flexibility if he can contribute at corner.
The Cardinals have their three top cornerbacks returning, but in an increasingly pass-happy league, dime packages are used frequently to counter multiple receiver sets, so there is always a need for quality backups. The Cardinals have two dynamic players here in Peterson and Mathieu, so General Manager Steve Keim may not go after a top-tier free agent cornerback, but it's still a position of need. Cason and Arenas were signed to cheap one-year deals a season ago, and the Cardinals may aim to find low-cost veterans again once the market settles. If Mathieu suffers a setback in his recovery, the need immediately becomes greater.
Notable scheduled NFL free agents: Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris, Captain Munnerlyn, Alterraun Verner, Drayton Florence, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, Will Blackmon, Tarell Brown, Quentin Jammer, Sam Shields, Jabari Greer, Asante Samuel, Champ Bailey, Dunta Robinson, DeAngelo Hall, Charles Tillman, Cortland Finnegan.
Notable past free agent CB signings by the Cardinals: Jerraud Powers (2013); Antoine Cason (2013); William Gay (2012); Bryant McFadden (2009); Roderick Hood (2007); Ralph Brown (2007); David Macklin (2004); Duane Starks (2002).