Cardinals absolutely need to re-sign dynamic veteran cornerback

(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) Antonio Hamilton
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) Antonio Hamilton /

The Arizona Cardinals need all the help they can get at cornerback, and Antonio Hamilton can bring that help to the team’s secondary.

In 2021, Byron Murphy was the Arizona Cardinals top corner. But he’s best projected to line up in the slot. While Robert Alford played well, he’s nothing more than a stopgap at age 33. Marco Wilson visibly struggled and didn’t improve much before he went down with a shoulder injury.

But Antonio Hamilton is the one guy nobody seems to be talking about. The journeyman made his way to the Cardinals in 2021 and logged a career-high in total tackles with 38 along with a fumble recovery and four pass deflections.

Nothing to brag at stats-wise, but here’s where it gets interesting for Hamilton. Per Pro-Football-Reference, he allowed a 63.9 completion percentage and an 89.9 passer rating. Both were higher numbers, but they were career lows for Hamilton, which shows improvement.

In his two previous seasons spent with the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs, he allowed a 74 percent completion rate and 287 passing yards. This equals 14.35 yards per catch. In 2021, Hamilton allowed just 23 receptions on 36 targets for 219 yards, dropping his total to 9.5 yards per catch.

But it gets more interesting. Hamilton’s yards allowed per pass attempt sat at 10.6 in 2019 and 2020. In 2021 that number sat at just 6.0 yards per pass attempt. Across the board, Hamilton’s numbers in pass defense showed enough that it’s worth bringing him back on a one-year deal to see if he can further improve upon his 2021 numbers.

What’s more interesting? The Cardinals loved using him in blitz packages, tasking him to rush the quarterback 10 times, where he recorded one hurry and one pressure. His missed-tackle percentage dropped to just 5 percent, also a career-low. And so were his 3.3 yards allowed after the catch.

In short, Hamilton, if nothing else, serves as a dynamic piece to add depth. But the Cardinals can trust him enough to play a serviceable game when called upon.

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