The cornerback position is one that the Indianapolis Colts will have to address this offseason, and they could look to do so in a similar fashion through free agency in 2021.
With Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie set to hit the market, the Colts currently have a group comprised of Kenny Moore II, Rock Ya-Sin, Marvell Tell and Isaiah Rodgers. There’s promise but even more question marks.
The Colts could look to bring in a veteran on a short deal like they did with Rhodes. It’s likely they are looking at aged veterans or reclamation projects who still have upside. Finding an elite cornerback on the market just isn’t something that happens, but there are intriguing options likely to be available.
Here are nine cornerbacks the Colts should consider in free agency:
William Jackson III
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Age: 28 Previous Team: Cincinnati Bengals Jackson was once thought to be in line to be one of the great corners in the league but his play has been somewhat inconsistent. That said, he still has the tools to be a solid option for the Colts if they are willing to pay a little bit. The core around him will help elevate his play as the Bengals rarely had a league-average defense. Jackson allowed a career-high 14.9 yards per catch but a solid 86.9 passer rating in coverage, per Pro Football Focus. He’s a veteran to target on a short deal and likely one of the top options on the market.
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Age: 25 Previous Team: Dallas Cowboys Awuzie is still young enough to where the Colts could find a potential future piece of their defense. Though he has struggled in man coverage a bit throughout this time with Dallas, Awuzie is a perfect fit for the Colts’ zone scheme. He can line up on the boundary or in the slot, giving Indy some versatility. Awuzie falls well short of the arm length requirement Chris Ballard likes in his cornerbacks, but that isn’t the only factor to consider. The Colorado product shouldn’t break the bank for the Colts and would give them a potential starter on the boundary to compete with Rock Ya-Sin.
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Age: 32 Previous Team: San Francisco 49ers Sherman is essentially on this list because of his name. His price tag might be out of the range for the Colts given that he’s likely looking for starter money, but Indy should at least consider it. Sherman has been a strong asset for the 49ers defense when not dealing with injuries. He only appeared in five games in 2020 but allowed a 69.6 pass rating in coverage, per Pro Football Focus. He also allowed a 45.3 passer rating during the 2019 season when the 49ers defense was elite. The Colts would likely get outbid if they have interest—and they shouldn’t break the bank for him—but Sherman is a solid option at the right price.
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Age: 25 Previous Team: Seattle Seahawks Griffin has been a starter for the Seahawks since he arrived in 2017. He has been solid yet uninspiring over the last two seasons for Seattle. That might help Griffin come at a bit of a discount if the Colts have interest when the market opens. Griffin can play with length as he’s just under the desired arm length mark that Ballard likes to see, and he has allowed a 99.4 and 99.2 passer rating in coverage over the last two seasons, respectively, per Pro Football Focus.
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Age: 25 Previous Team: San Francisco 49ers A prospect we thought Ballard might be interested in during the 2017 NFL draft, Witherspoon has the size, length, speed and athleticism that would make him a perfect fit for Matt Eberflus’ defense. His play has been somewhat inconsistent with the 49ers but he would be a nice fit on the boundary for the Colts. Witherspoon also shouldn’t break the bank for the Colts so they could be finding a potential starter in free agency without having to pay up. He has the potential to be a very strong press zone corner.
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Age: 29 Previous Team: San Francisco 49ers Williams might be a bit of a sleeper in this free agency class. He might be undersized and relegated to the slot, but all he does is produce. Williams hasn’t allowed a yards per reception mark over 9.6 in the last four seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Williams could be a cheap depth option for the Colts in dime packages or if they feel comfortable enough to let Kenny Moore play a bit more on the outside, which he’s proven he can do. Williams is an intriguing veteran option for the Colts even if his role is limited to the slot.
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Age: 31 Previous Team: Arizona Cardinals Like the aforementioned Sherman, Peterson is on this list mostly because of his name. He has still flashed some of that elite talent as the CB1 for the Cardinals, but he’s certainly past his peak. That said, Peterson might be a target for the Colts if the money is right. If the Colts had interest in Peterson, it would likely be in the same light as Xavier Rhodes. Hope the scheme can hide some of his decline and get him back to making plays on the ball behind a solid defensive line.
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Age: 29 Previous Team: San Francisco 49ers Verrett comes with obvious risk due to his recently concerning injury history. But that is likely to be baked into his price when he hits the market. He’s played just 19 games over the last four seasons, 13 of which came in 2020. So we are looking at Verrett as a potential depth piece hoping he stays healthy. The veteran was solid in 2020, though, allowing a 76.3 passer rating in coverage, per Pro Football Focus. If he can stay healthy, Verrett might be a cheap option the Colts look at. That’s a big if, though.
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Age: 29 Previous Team: Denver Broncos It has been a few years since Bouye was among the top cornerbacks in the league. After being a part of the magnificent 2016 Jaguars defense, Bouye was shipped off to the Broncos before the 2020 season. He struggled mightily, allowing a 102.9 passer rating in coverage in nine games. But Bouye would be another cheap veteran to look at. The hope would be that he can find his groove like Rhodes and Pierre Desir did thanks to a strong front seven and a zone-heavy scheme, allowing him to keep his eyes in the backfield. Bouye will come cheap, and he’s flashed talent before, so he could be a target for Indy.