The New England Patriots need help at cornerback this offseason, and with Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Richard Sherman all finding new homes already, there won’t be many marquee names available once free agency officially opens Wednesday.
Assuming Malcolm Butler’s time in New England is finished after his Super Bowl LII benching, we compiled a list of cornerbacks the Patriots could target this week if they choose to address their need through free agency.
The Patriots’ depth chart at corner currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Cyrus Jones, Ryan Lewis and Jomal Wiltz, with Butler and Johnson Bademosi both set to hit the open market.
The New York Giants cut Rodgers-Cromartie on Sunday after the veteran refused to take a pay cut. His 2017 numbers aren’t impressive (zero interceptions, one pass breakup, 76.7 completion percentage against), and he was suspended one game following an argument with a coach. New York’s entire secondary was a mess this past season, though, and Rodgers-Cromartie, a second-team All-Pro one year earlier, did allow just 8.0 yards per completion, per Pro Football Focus, the best mark of his career. He has the ability to play both outside and in the slot, and though he’ll be 32 next month, he still could be an intriguing short-term option for New England.
Despite adding cornerbacks Talib, Peters and Sam Shields, the Los Angeles Rams reportedly hope to re-sign Robey-Coleman, who played well as their nickel corner in 2017. The Patriots haven’t found a player who can reliably man the slot since Logan Ryan left in free agency last year, and Robey-Coleman, whom the Pats know well from his time with the Buffalo Bills, could fill that need. He had two interceptions and nine pass breakups this season.
With the starting spots in Jacksonville occupied by All-Pros Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, Colvin served as the Jaguars’ nickel back this season and excelled in that role. He could start for many teams around the league. In New England, Colvin could play a role similar to the one Ryan had, starting on the outside in base defense and moving to the slot in nickel packages.
Injuries are a concern with Gaines, who’s missed five games in each of the last two seasons and didn’t play at all in 2015. He was a valuable player for the Bills in 2017, though, starting 11 games opposite standout rookie Tre’Davious White and grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 13th-best cornerback. Spotrac projects the 26-year-old’s next contract will have an average annual value of around $9.3 million, which might be a bit much for the Patriots.
Carrie played both in the slot and outside for the Oakland Raiders and has missed just one game over the past three seasons. He set a career high with 84 tackles in 2017 to go along with nine pass breakups. A Bay Area native, the 27-year-old said he wants to remain with the Raiders, who, like the Rams, are revamping their secondary this offseason.
Amukamara never lived up to his draft position after going 19th overall to the Giants in 2011, but he’s still kicking around the league seven years later. He played in 14 games for the Chicago Bears in 2017, finishing with 48 tackles and seven pass breakups. The 28-year-old wouldn’t be anything more than a depth piece, but he’d come cheap.