The news the Cardinals signed Robert Alford wasn't a surprise, since they were in critical need of a cornerback. The team went through three at that spot last year. There are a couple of angles from which to view this. One is about Alford himself. He did not have a great year in Atlanta and that, combined with his big contract and younger corners the Falcons have, led to his release. But he has been fairly solid in his career up until last year (and he was far from the only Falcon defender to underachieve last season.) He can play the kind of man coverage the Cardinals want to get back to running under new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.
Of course, Alford is just the latest attempt to find a solution as the No. 2 cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. It's a subject we've written on many, many times before -- basically, it's an annual topic. That's why the three-year deal Alford signed is notable -- in Peterson's eight NFL seasons, having a long-term possibility hasn't always been there. William Gay signed a two-year deal in 2012 but he was cut after one season. Jerraud Powers signed for three years and in fact, was Peterson's running mate for two of those years, but the Cards also brought in Antonio Cromartie on a one-year deal (in which he made the Pro Bowl) and then he left. Tramon Williams, who picked up the pieces in 2017 when Justin Bethel just couldn't grab his chance, was a one-year deal. Marcus Cooper was solid in 2016 taking over for an over-his-head Brandon Williams, but after getting him in a trade with one year left on his contract, he also left to get rich as a free agent.
Alford didn't come cheap but he didn't get a backbreaking deal either -- $13.5M guaranteed makes sense for a guy you expect to be a starting cornerback. That said, it's the biggest commitment this team has made financially to a No. 2 cornerback since Peterson has been around. We will see how the numbers break down on the deal, and given the dearth of cornerback experience on the roster otherwise, I still expect the Cards to seek something at the position either in free agency or the draft. But it could impact the early rounds and the need/pressure/desire to take a cornerback. This is a big step to try and rehab a roster that needs it -- and yet another try to find P2 a partner.
|Year||No. 2 CB (starts)|
|2011||A.J. Jefferson (7), Richard Marshall (9)|
|2012||William Gay (15), Greg Toler (1)|
|2013||Jerraud Powers (16)|
|2014||Antonio Cromartie (16)|
|2015||Jerraud Powers (13), Justin Bethel (3)|
|2016||Brandon Williams (3), Marcus Cooper (13)|
|2017||Justin Bethel (6), Tramon Williams (10)|
|2018||Jamar Taylor (3), Bene Benwikere (8), David Amerson (5)|