Jamar Taylor knows what it was like to play cornerback across from a big name, because he did that in 2016 when he and Joe Haden played for the Browns.
Now Taylor, whom the Cardinals acquired in a trade last week in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round draft pick, is trying to fit into a similar role as the starter the Cards need across from Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson.
“That meant more plays for me that year,” Taylor said of his time teaming with Haden. “Playing opposite from Pat, that’s a huge deal. You have to hold your own.”
The annual search for a tag-team partner for Peterson is ongoing in coach Steve Wilks’ first season. Taylor
is the latest candidate, although Wilks has a caveat when it comes to calling Taylor the leading candidate.
“When you look at what he’s done on paper, I think you can say that,” Wilks said. “But again, once they are on the field, it’s a clean slate for everybody.”
Taylor was a second-round pick of Miami in 2013, but his career has not flourished the way a second-rounder might’ve hoped. The only three interceptions of his career came in 2016, and he became a full-time starter only once he got to Cleveland.
But Wilks likes how physical Taylor plays, a must for Wilks’ philosophy of defense. And Taylor comes to a place that not only needs a starter, but is close to his home in San Diego – something he relishes after playing on the East coast and in the Midwest – and brings his wife, Mackenzie Flannigan, home to where she helped lead the track team when she attended nearby Chandler High School.
Taylor also acknowledged the deal put a “fire in my gut to come here and ball out” after a disappointing end in
“You hear the (trade) rumors,” Taylor said. “A guy like me, I try to keep my head down. But after they drafted a corner fourth overall (Denzel Ward), it’s like, ‘Alright. Let’s get this ball rolling. Get to a new team.’ ”
Calling himself a film junkie, Taylor expressed confidence in being able to earn the starting job with Peterson. But he acknowledged he has work to put in, and that he needs to reward the Cardinals’ desire for wanting to trade for him by performing well.
“We all know a lot of teams aren’t going to really try to test Patrick,” Wilks said. “The guy opposite him is going to get a lot of opportunities, and hopefully we can find a guy to step up.”
Taylor was asked about the reworking his contract to facilitate the trade, but he did not say whether he had to give up any money.
“I’m good,” Taylor said. “On top of that, I don’t play this game for money. It’s about the game on the field, it’s about the bond, it’s about being the best. At the end of the day, I’m trying to get to where ‘21’ (Peterson) is at.”