Thu, 09 Apr 2020

Redskins Free Agency Reset: Cornerbacks

Washington Redskins
26 Mar 2020, 16:03 GMT+10

A lot has changed since publishing our free agency preview for defensive backs fewer than two weeks ago.

Byron Jones signed a record-breaking contract with the Miami Dolphins, James Bradberry received his $15 million per year from the New York Giants and Chris Harris Jr. eventually agreed to a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Those were far and away the top three cornerbacks, unsurprisingly, they are no longer on the open market.

However, there are still plenty of quality cornerbacks available as the first full week of free agency wraps up. And with Washington trading Quinton Dunbar to the Seattle Seahawks, it could use some depth at the position.

Here are five options the Redskins could pursue as free agency enters its second full week:

Rhodes, 29, immediately became one of the better options at the position when the Minnesota Vikings terminated his contract March 13.

A former first-round pick in 2013, Rhodes emerged as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL over his first five seasons. His best years came in 2016, when he corralled a career-high five interceptions, and in 2017, when he earned first-team All-Pro honors as the Vikings' shutdown corner.

But over the past two seasons, Rhodes' performance declined significantly. He's combined for two interceptions and 13 passes defended during that stretch, and despite being named a Pro Bowl replacement in 2019, he had one of the worst Pro Football Focus grades among cornerbacks.

These recent struggles make Rhodes a cost-efficient candidate for a Redskins team that needs help on the outside. They could opt to give him a one-year deal, which would limit the risk while potentially setting up the defense for a significant reward.

Worley is not as accomplished as the first three cornerbacks listed, but he's only 25 years old and has a previous relationship with Rivera.

Worley, a third-round pick of the Panthers in 2016, had his best statistical season in Carolina. He appeared in all 16 games (11 starts) and totaled 87 tackles (62 solo), nine pass breakups and an interception. Plus, he was the 12th-best cornerback against the run, according to Pro Football Focus.

After recorded 10 passes defensed and two interceptions across 14 starts in 2017, Worley was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for wide receiver Torrey Smith. About a month later, the Eagles released Worley due to an off-field incident.

The Oakland Raiders quickly signed Worley following his release, and he played well for the Raiders past two seasons. In 26 starts, Worley combined for 81 tackles, 15 pass breakups and a pair of interceptions.

Cockrell, 28, is another player with Rivera ties.

Following stints in Buffalo, Pittsburgh and New York, the 2014 fourth-round pick signed a two-year contract with the Panthers. But during training camp that summer, he suffered a broken left tibia and fibula, which required surgery and landed him on Injured Reserve for the entire 2018 season.

Cockrell recovered to start 11 games last season and played wherever the Panthers needed him to. He made 62 tackles (48 solo), deflected eight passes and made two receptions.

"He's a very smart football player. A very smart young man, in fact," Rivera told the Panthers' team site last July. "I think the biggest thing is that he has a good skill set. I think we can utilize his ability to track the ball, play the ball, make a play on the ball. If the pass rush is what it is and it can be, we're looking for that guy that can make plays on the ball."

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