Around the time the New York Jets signed Pierre Desir to a one-year deal to plug one of their cornerback openings, the Jacksonville Jaguars thought they were signing former Cincinnati Bengal Darqueze Dennard. Jacksonville couldn’t reach agreement on a contract, and now in mid-June, Dennard finds himself looking for a team to sign with.
The Jets are still in the market for a cornerback opposite Desir.
Name: Darqueze Dennard, cornerback
Profile: Dennard was selected No. 24 overall by the Bengals in the 2014 NFL Draft after a four-year college career at Michigan State. His tenure in Cincinnati was marred by injuries and inconsistency. He battled for a starter role amid a deep Bengals secondary. The highest slot he ever moved up to on the depth chart was the third corner behind Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick (who is also still a free agent). All in all, he only started four games in the first three seasons of his career.
2019 Stats: Dennard appeared in nine games in 2019; he started the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list because of offseason arthroscopic knee surgery. When he got back on the field, he was used primarily as their fifth cornerback last season and matched him against inside wide receivers. He didn't make his first regular-season appearance until a Week 7 loss to Jacksonville.
2019 Salary and Contract: After Dennard was in talks with the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason, he wound up signing a one-year deal worth $4.5 million to return to Cincinnati. He thought he could command higher interest on the open market, but was wrong.
The Fit: Dennard is better than cornerbacks Blessen Austin, Arthur Maulet, and newly re-signed Brian Poole. However, he has injury concerns and been marked by inconsistency on the field. ESPN reported on March 17 that Dennard had reached an agreement with the Jaguars on a three-year deal worth $13.5 million with $6 million guaranteed. Before Dennard put pen to paper, the team reached an “impasse.” A Jaguars spokesman says that they couldn’t agree on financial terms. Nearly three months later, Darqueze Dennard is still on the market.
The Jets still have issues at cornerback and could be looking for either depth or another starting quality cornerback.
The Jets drafted a cornerback in fifth-round pick Bryce Hall out of Virginia. Hall is coming off a major ankle injury and Dennard could be a fit to serve a similar role as Desir. However, if the reason Dennard is still on the market because of financial demands, it’s unlikely that Jets general manager Joe Douglas would pay for Dennard when he got both Desir and re-signed Poole for what could be the same amount Dennard would want.
Dennard has ability but is considered a disappointment with the Bengals since his rookie season. Without face to face meetings, Douglas would have to be convinced that Dennard is healthy as well as not making huge financial demands.