After an arrest resulted in his release by the Minnesota Vikings last year, the Arizona Cardinals have given cornerback Jeff Gladney another chance to play in the NFL.
On Wednesday, the Arizona Cardinals announced the signing of free-agent cornerback Jeff Gladney. To some, the addition of Gladney doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal for the Cardinals, but it definitely has the potential to be.
Selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Gladney was on his way to opening the 2021 campaign as a starter. But then he was charged with felony domestic assault last April and this eventually led to the Vikings releasing the 25-year-old before the start of the 2021 season.
Earlier this month, Gladney was found not guilty of his felony domestic assault charge, clearing the way for a return to the NFL. More than 10 teams reportedly had interest in signing the young cornerback this year, but ultimately, he decided to take his talents to the desert.
What is the best-case scenario for new Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jeff Gladney?
With Arizona, Gladney joins a young group of cornerbacks that includes Byron Murphy, Marco Wilson, Breon Borders, Nate Brooks, and Jace Whittaker. None of the Cardinals’ current corners are over the age of 26, which means the group has a bunch of potential heading into the future.
As a rookie with Minnesota in 2020, Gladney appeared in 16 games and started 15 of them. During his time on the field, he accumulated 81 tackles (seven for a loss), three pass breakups, and one forced fumble.
He looked like a rookie for most of the 2020 campaign, but during the last few weeks of the season, he seemed to turn a corner. In his final five starts as a rookie, Gladney didn’t allow a touchdown pass and he only he gave up an average of two catches for 22 yards per game.
Getting the opportunity to work with Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph should benefit Gladney. With Joseph leading the way, Arizona’s pass defense has ranked in the top half of the NFL during the last two seasons despite not having any elite cornerbacks on their roster during this time period.
Joseph has been known to get the most out of his secondary during his time as a coach in the league, so could he do the same for Gladney? The Cardinals certainly hope so.