5 Veteran Cornerback Options the Jaguars Could Consider to Replace Rashaan Melvin
The Jacksonville Jaguars made earnest attempts at bringing veteran cornerbacks onto the roster this offseason, but circumstances got in the way in each case, leaving the team currently devoid of a veteran addition at the position.
First, the Jaguars attempted to sign former Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard. The two parties initially agreed to terms, but the deal fell through shortly after and Jacksonville was forced to pivot away from Dennard.
Instead, the Jaguars signed veteran cornerback Rashaan Melvin with the hopes of adding depth and a veteran presence to a cornerback room that now consists of three rookies and two third-year players.
But on Thursday, Melvin informed the Jaguars he would be opting out of the 2020 season, once again creating a need for experience at the cornerback spot. Luckily for the Jaguars, there are still several veteran cornerbacks available on the free agent market who have yet to sign with a team as training camps progress.
So, which free agent corners make the most sense for the Jaguars to consider to replace Melvin and bolster the secondary in terms of experience? We identified five who make sense.
Arguably one of the four to five best players available in free agency, Logan Ryan makes sense for any team that is looking to strengthen its secondary. A key piece to the success of the Tennessee Titans' defense, it is a bit of a surprise Ryan is even still available. He may not be the most logical fit in terms of scheme and need for the Jaguars, but he is the top available player at the position.
While serving as mostly a slot corner for the Titans, Ryan has experience on the outside and can slide to the boundary in a pinch. Ryan, who has appeared in 109 regular season games with 85 starts, is also fresh off of his best professional season. In 2019, Ryan recorded four intercepted, 18 pass deflections, 4,5 sacks and 113 tackles. Jacksonville is already deep at slot corner, but Ryan is a bit like Dennard in the sense that the Jaguars could see him as depth on the outside instead of his natural spot inside.
Tramaine Brock has started just 16 games over the last three seasons, but 11 of those cames in 2019 during stints with the Titans and the Arizona Cardinals. He will be 32-years-old by the time the season begins, giving him plenty of experience throughout his career. He has also played in multiple schemes due to the fact he has bounced around teams from time to time, indicating he is a player with strong capabilities of adjusting to a new defense, which would be key for any cornerback the Jaguars could sign at this stage of the offseason.
Since 2010, Brock has appeared in 117 regular season games with 56 starts, along with six starts in 13 playoff apperances. He has recorded 11 interceptions and 55 pass deflections over his career, though his last productive season was in 2016. At the very least, Brock would give the Jaguars a backup with an abundance of experience, which would have value despite not being a starter role.
The No. 17 overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2012 NFL Draft, Dre Kirkpatrick had a long tenure as a starter in the AFC North throughout the first eight years of his career. Kirkpatrick has certainly lost a bit of a step compared to his early years a physical corner, but he has enough experience to warrant adding to a young cornerback room.
Since 2012, Kirkpatrick has appeared in 99 games with 67 starts, including three postseason starts. One of the most experienced cornerbacks available, Kirkpatrick was a solid cover man during his prime, recording 10 interceptions, 65 pass deflections and three sacks. He is in the same mold of both Dennard and Melvin as players, though he is likely strictly an outside cornerback.
Picked No. 6 overall by the Dallas Cowboys the same year the Bengals selected Kirkpatrick, Claiborne has had an up-and-down career. His tenure with the Cowboys was shaky, but he has flashed decent play with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs in recent years, and his physical coverage style and ability to disrupt at the catch point fit what the Jaguars look for in cornerbacks.
In eight seasons, Claiborne has appeared in 85 games and started 74, wth 30 starts coming for the New York Jets from 2017-18. He has never quite lived up to his draft status, but he is worth examining as a potential flier for veteran depth, which is the very reason the Chiefs signed him to their new-look defense last year.
34-year-old Aqib Talib has been one of the league's most recognizable cornerbacks since entering the league with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. And while Talib isn't the sticky press-man corner he was at his physical peak, he could still provide solid veteran depth while also being an option to start on the outside when needed.
Talib has had durability issues as of late, missing 19 games over the last two seasons, but he still has a skill set that can provide value to an NFL defense in 2020. He is strong at the line of scrimmage and has 148 regular season games worth of experience, with 35 interceptions being recorded in that time. Talib also makes sense in part because the Jaguars could realistically still start Tre Herndon while having Talib as insurance.