New Colts Cornerback Xavier Rhodes Looks To Bounce Back From Subpar Season

Minnesoa cornerback Xavier Rhodes, shown in a 2019 game, has agreed to join the Indianapolis Colts for 2020.Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports

PhilB24

INDIANAPOLIS — Three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes will have the chance to rebound next season with the Indianapolis Colts.

Released after 2019 struggles in his seventh season with Minnesota, Rhodes agreed to a reported one-year, $5 million contract to join the Colts on Thursday, according to multiple national sources and Rhodes’ agent.

The Vikings reportedly made a pitch to bring Rhodes back for an eighth season, but he chose the Colts.

After releasing their best cover guy in Pierre Desir four days ago, the Colts needed to address the position. The outside starters before Rhodes’ arrival were second-year pros Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell III, who had so-so rookie years in adjusting to the NFL. Nickel cornerback Kenny Moore II is one of the league’s best.

Rhodes was considered an elite cover corner until struggling last year, when he didn’t have an interception for the first time. But he was still named a Pro Bowl alternate and is just 29, so Colts general manager Chris Ballard considered Rhodes a smart buy with a one-year, prove-it deal. In addition to three Pro Bowls, he was first-team All-Pro in 2017.

If Rhodes can return to his previous excellence, he earns a big pay day after 2020. If not, the Colts only risked one season in giving him a chance.

Ballard has deviated from his previous routine in free agency by making a series of splashes in the past two weeks. The addition of quarterback Philip Rivers, given a one-year, $25 million deal, as well as Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who received a four-year, $84-million extension, signifies the GM’s desire to be more of a championship contender next season.

The Colts finished 7-9 last season and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. Ballard, entering his fourth season as GM, valued Buckner so much that he traded the team’s first-round draft choice, No. 13 overall, to San Francisco. The Colts boss typically stockpiles and covets his draft picks. He traded out of the first round last year, which landed him the No. 34 overall selection early in the second round next month.

The flurry of activity had the Colts’ salary cap space at about $29 million, according to spotrac.com, before the Wednesday signing of San Francisco defensive tackle Sheldon Day. That means Ballard might not be finished. He could still look to bolster a thin wide receiver group before April’s NFL draft.

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