Arizona Cardinals Free Agent Preview: Marcus Cooper

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Marcus Cooper is one of several members of the Cardinals secondary that are free agents

The Arizona Cardinals secondary, like the rest of the defensive units, has several free agents. One of those is cornerback Marcus Cooper. He played heavy minutes in 2016, but the Cardinals might try to upgrade the position for next season.

Cooper was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 NFL Draft, but was released before the season started. The Kansas City Chiefs signed him, and he logged plenty of playing time in his three seasons there. In the 2016 off-season, he was traded to the Cardinals for a future draft selection.

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The Cardinals entered the season looking for an answer at cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. They drafted Brandon Williams and gave him a shot. They also had Justin Bethel on the roster, but wound up trading for Cooper after deciding neither option was viable as a full time starter. When the regular season opened, Cooper lined up as second corner.

Cooper’s season wasn’t a model of consistency. He had 11 passes defended and recorded four interceptions, one of which he returned for a score. However, he was susceptible to the big play at times, and had a couple of bad games. Still, he played well enough overall.

The cornerback position is unsettled once again going into the off-season. With Cooper entering free agency, there is no clear starter for 2017, and many are predicting them to draft a corner with their first round pick this year. With potentially bigger needs, though, bringing Cooper back might be a better plan. He proved he can play, and isn’t as big a risk as a rookie would be.

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Cooper will command a substantial raise in 2017, but it might be worth it. He’ll be just 27 years old entering next season, and could get even better. A multi-year deal would be good for everyone, giving some piece of mind for Cooper, and allowing the Cardinals to use the draft to sort out their future at other positions. Re-signing Cooper makes sense, but in the end, it depends on how much they spend on the other free agents they have.