Five free agent cornerbacks that could interest the Green Bay Packers.
Provided unrestricted free agent Davon House signs elsewhere, the returning corners include promising but unproven 2017 second-rounder Kevin King as well as unheralded prospects whose names don’t exactly jump off the screen, like Josh Hawkins and Demetri Goodson.
The corner cupboards haven’t been this bare in a long time, but the good news is that the Packers look poised to be aggressive in free agency.
All indications are that new GM Brian Gutekunst intends to value free agency more than his predecessor Ted Thompson did, and it would come as more of a shock this offseason if the Packers didn’t ink a deal with a highly coveted free agent or two.
Whether the Packers will have a Super Bowl or merely playoff-caliber squad in 2018 depends a lot on what they do to solidify their corners in the coming months. Here are five CBs worth Green Bay’s consideration when free agency begins on Wednesday.
5. Patrick Robinson, Eagles
A key contributor in the back end of Philly’s vaunted defense, the Super Bowl champion turns 31 in September, which means a two-year deal could be reasonable and enticing, but Patrick Robinson‘s age should preclude giving him a longer-term contract.
The eight-year vet totaled four picks and defended a whopping 18 passes in his lone season as an Eagle. His age and experience could also benefit such a young and anonymous group of corners. As a reference point, Charles Woodson was 30 when he agreed to terms with the Packers in 2006.
4. Malcolm Butler, Patriots
Getting benched by Bill Belichick in a championship game does constitute a red flag, but the hero of Super Bowl XLIX remains one of the premier corners on the market. In defense of Malcolm Butler, the New England brass has been known to clash with its own (non-Brady) players, and without the 2015 Pro Bowler, the Pats’ secondary certainly got shredded by Nick Foles.
His high-profile incidents should reduce his price tag, and while his former team seems to believe the 28-year-old is trending in the wrong direction, Butler would still be a mammoth upgrade over names like Lenzy Pipkins and Donatello Brown.
3. Nickell Robey-Coleman, Rams
The first of two Los Angeles corners, Nickell Robey-Coleman represents a younger and more affordable option than his counterpart on the list. Undersized at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds, he has earned a reputation as a great tackler who’s tough against the run.
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Robey-Coleman also picked off a couple throws and defended nine passes as a slot corner for the Rams last season. L.A. just acquired corners Aqib Talib and former Packer Sam Shields, which means it’s entirely possible they’re planning to part ways with both NRC and his teammate Trumaine Johnson.
2. Trumaine Johnson, Rams
The 28-year-old would probably rank as No. 1 if the Packers knew they’d be getting his production from 2015, when he racked up seven picks. By contrast, he has only totaled three interceptions in the past two seasons — and he’s not quite a shutdown-level corner who can erase half the field.
The Rams gave him the franchise tag last season, which means he’s sure to pursue a monstrous, multi-year contract. Making sure his value matches his salary will be a challenge. On the other hand, these Packers are in dire need of better cornerback and they need to invest accordingly.
Consider this: Johnson has amassed 67 passes defended in his career. Incumbents King, Goodson, and Pipkins have combined for eight.
1. Rashaan Melvin, Colts
Rashaan Melvin isn’t a household name, but playing deep into January as a great corner on the Packers could change that. Before he got sidelined with a hand injury last season, Melvin became a standout on a mediocre Indy team that will be vying to re-sign the emerging corner.
He can play the run effectively and more importantly, his cover skills make him a nightmare of matchup for opposing receivers. Melvin is a big, physical, athletic CB listed at 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds.
If he got paired with Kevin King (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), the Packers could field an imposing tandem of starting corners for years to come. And even if King struggles in his second season, that’s all the more reason to sign an impact player like Melvin.