Intriguing cornerback option available for Arizona Cardinals
Former top-ten draft pick Justin Gilbert has underachieved but he could revive his career with the Arizona Cardinals
The fact that the Arizona Cardinals are still in search of a number-two cornerback is one of the team’s worst-kept secrets. A shortage in salary-cap space will preclude the club from addressing the problem with a splash in free agency. But maybe a splash isn’t necessarily needed.
The eighth-overall pick of the 2014 draft, Justin Gilbert, is currently an unrestricted free agent. Why a player with such pedigree is so readily available is a cause for debate. But the measurables on the Oklahoma State University product read well, so Arizona should at least be kicking the tires on the 25-year old.
Nevertheless, the red flags on Gilbert exist. Despite being in the league for just three years, the 6’0″, 202 lb corner has been given up on twice. The squad who drafted him, the Cleveland Browns, traded him last year to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who in turn released him last month.
What went wrong in Cleveland isn’t quite clear. The Browns’ Pro Bowl left tackle, Joe Thomas, indicated that a lack of love for the game may have been Gilbert’s problem. But perhaps playing for a downtrodden organization like the Browns could have that effect on a player.
More from Raising Zona
- Arizona Cardinals: Could Eric Bieniemy come to the desert?
- Would Jonathan Gannon be a good fit for the Arizona Cardinals?
- Arizona Cardinals: Budda Baker right in his take regarding the next coach
- Arizona Cardinals: 3 reasons new coach should want to work with Murray
- Arizona Cardinals special teams could be completely revamped in 2023
The reason for his release from the Steelers may have been financially driven. Pittsburgh cleared about $2.2 million in cap space by cutting Gilbert, money they needed to allocate to other players. In fact, reports are that they may be willing to have him back at a lesser salary.
His value with Arizona could be two-fold. Besides playing corner, Gilbert has excellent kick-return ability. The Cardinals could certainly use help in both areas.
His best season in the pros was his rookie season with the Browns. Gilbert tallied 29 tackles, eight pass breakups and a pick-six in 14 appearances. Whatever the reason, he’s been relegated to mostly backup duty ever since.
Without alot of money to spend on the position in free agency, perhaps an experiment with Gilbert would be a fine way to go. He’s a player with a ton of upside, and they may even be able to sign him to a one-year “prove-it” contract. At this point in their continual search for a number-two cornerback, they have nothing to lose.