The new league year is about to start and the Green Bay Packers expect some turnover at the cornerback position. Starter Kevin King is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent while nickel back Chandon Sullivan is a restricted free agent. That means the Packers top two corners behind Jaire Alexander may not return to Green Bay in 2021.
The Packers are expected to add a cornerback early in the 2021 NFL Draft, but they will also likely add a veteran free agent cornerback who can be a bridge starter until the rookie is ready for full-time duties.
With the Packers still above the salary cap, they will not be spending big bucks on any free agent. Still, GM Brian Gutekunst has indicated they Pack will spend some money on the right players if the opportunity arises.
With that in mind, here is a look at five cornerbacks the Packers could target in free agency this offseason:
- Quinton Dunbar, Seattle Seahawks
Dunbar has the size the Packers would want to replace King. He also has played under new Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry when in Washington and is familiar with Barry’s way of thinking.
The former University of Florida star enjoyed his best season in 2019 with Washington
There are injury concerns about Dunbar. He is coming off a knee injury that ended his 2020 season after just six games. In fact, Dunbar has never started more than 11 games in a season in his NFL career.
If he can stay healthy, Dunbar may be a relatively inexpensive stopgap starter for the Packers if King departs in free agency as expected.
- Troy Hill, Los Angeles Rams
Hill is familiar with both Barry and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur as both were on the Rams coaching staff during Hill’s time in Los Angeles.
Hill started all 16 games for the Rams last season and intercepted three passes while returning two of them for touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks completed 70.3 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Hill and had a quarterback rating of 89.8 according to pro-football-reference.com. He had a better season in coverage in 2019.
Hill is only 5’11” and the Packers may be looking for a taller corner opposite the smaller Jaire Alexander. He was timed at 4.55 in the 40-yard dash before the combine so his speed for a corner is average. Hill will also turn 30 before the start of the 2021 season so signing him to anything more than a two or three year contract is a bit of a gamble.
- Jason Verrett, San Francisco 49ers
Verrett is a talented former first-round pick but he has a lengthy injury history. He suffered a torn Achilles injury that cost him all the 2018 season and then missed nearly all the 2019 season due to an ankle injury.
The TCU alum returned in 2020 and played in 13 games while intercepting two passes. Opposing quarterbacks completed 66.7 percent of their passes when targeting receivers covered by Verrett and their quarterback rating was 76.2.
At 5’10”, Verrett lacks the height of the player he’d be replacing in King, but he has good speed and anticipation and would be a solid short-term starter for the Packers. His injury history may also help keep his price lower which could make it easier for Gutekunst to sign him.
- Xavier Rhodes, Indianapolis Colts
Packers fans are familiar with Rhodes from his time with the Vikings. At 6’1”, he has the size the Packers are looking for at this position.
After struggling in 2019, the former Florida State star returned to form with the Colts in 2020. He intercepted two passes and opposing quarterbacks completed just 51.9 percent of their passes when throwing to receivers covered by Rhodes.
Rhodes will be 31 before the start of the 2021 season so signing him to a long-term deal may not make sense. If he plays to his potential, he would be a solid short-term replacement for King but he may ask for a longer or more expensive deal than the Packers are willing to offer.
- Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers
Sherman is a familiar opponent for the Packers after his time in Seattle and San Francisco. The former Stanford star is smart, has excellent size at 6’3” and is a respected leader in the locker room.
Yes, he has lost a step and he’ll turn 33 before the start of the season, but Sherman never relied on speed to cover receivers, even in his prime. For Sherman, it’s about anticipation, football smarts and size. He excels in zone coverage and the Packers new defense is likely to feature a lot of it.
Sherman has big game experience with both Seattle and San Francisco and that can come in handy in Green Bay. He may also be willing to take a little less money to play for a contender and the Packers certainly fit that bill.
If they can afford him, Sherman would be a great short-term solution for the Packers at cornerback.
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