Which Available Free Agent Cornerbacks Could the Jaguars Still Target?
With veteran cornerback Darqueze Dennard no longer set to join the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020, the Jaguars' big questions at cornerback aren't as solved as much as the Jaguars were clearly hoping they would be.
Dennard isn't an elite cover man, but he is an experienced and serviceable starter who has experience both on the outside and in the slot. For the Jaguars, he could have competed for a starting job on the outside and, at worst, provide great depth at the position.
But with Dennard out of the picture due to the team and his camp being unable to agree to a contract, the Jaguars will have to look elsewhere if they want veteran cornerback depth.
With most of the top free agent options at the position already finding new homes since free agency officially began last Wednesday, the cupboard is a bit bare. But with that said, there are still a few veterans with starting experience who could entice the Jaguars as they look to bolster their secondary before the draft.
Which available free agent cornerbacks make sense? We picked five who we could realistically see the team target, even if they aren't upgrades over Dennard:
Outside of Dennard, Bashaud Breeland is probably the top cornerback left on the open market. Breeland, 28, has been on three different teams in his six years in the NFL, but his latest stop with the Kansas City Chiefs gives him a lot of credibility as a starting-caliber outside cornerback moving forward.
In 16 regular season games (15 starts) in 2019, Breeland recorded two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and eight pass deflections, along with some solid coverage numbers. According to Pro Football Reference, Breeland allowed completions on only 48.4% of targets against him in coverage. He is a tough, technically sound, and versatile cornerback who can play both man and zone, all traits the Jaguars covet.
The youngest option on this list, the 26-year-old Darby had a great start to his career with the Buffalo Bills, but his three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles were less successful. Darby is a physically gifted corner who has the long speed and agility to keep up with most receivers, but his issues with tackling and inconsistent play in coverage have tampered the expectations for his market.
In 57 career games (56 starts), Darby has recorded eight interceptions and 65 pass deflections, so he does have decent ball production despite his up-and-down play. Darby still has the time to turn around his career in his post-Eagles ventures, and his experience on the outside and ability to be around the football could entice teams desperate for cornerback depth like the Jaguars. He has had durability issues, missing 20 games over the last three seasons, but he makes sense as a low-risk, high-reward option.
Thanks to his lone season with the Jaguars in 2016, veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara already has experience with Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash and the Jaguars' Cover 3-heavy coverage scheme. If the Jaguars want a safe cornerback who can provide a lot of experience without a high ceiling, Amukamara makes a lot of sense.
Amukamara, who will be 31 during the 2020 season, may still have something left in the tank after having a fantastic season for Chicago in 2018. A key part of the Bears' top-ranked defense that season, Amukamara recorded three interceptions, 12 pass deflections, and two forced fumbles that season. 2019 was less of a positive year for the entire Bears' defense and Amukamara, however, as the 10th-year veteran failed to record any interceptions and allowed an increase in completion percentage.
34-year-old Aqib Talib has built a strong career for himself since entering the league with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. And while Talib isn't the sticky press-man corner he was in his prime, 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. Talib could step in from day one and provide leadership for Tre Herndon and whichever cornerback the Jaguars draft in April, as well as serve as a matchup weapon for bigger, slower pass-catching targets.
If anyone knows what Jonathan Joseph brings to the table, it is the Jaguars. They have had to deal with Joseph's versatility and playmaking ability two times a year since 2011, likely leaving a strong impression considering his long history of success and consistency.
Joseph is far from a long-term fixture considering he will be 36 and entering his 15th season in 2020, but his veteran experience and leadership could be invaluable to a young Jaguars' secondary. Despite his rising age, Joseph still has solid production in the last three seasons (five interceptions, 35 pass deflections) so he can still play snaps on the outside in a pinch. He isn't as much of an answer as Dennard would have been, but he would offer similar traits and even more experience.