Not many fans of the Arizona Cardinals would argue with the notion that the team could use some help at cornerback. This past season, Antonio Hamilton Sr. was the elder statesman of an extremely young group of cover guys. Kudos to Cards defensive coordinator Nick Rallis for keeping the unit competitive with first-year players such as Garrett Williams, Starling Thomas V, and Kei'Trel Clark in the lineup.
When Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort is putting together the roster this offseason, there's a good chance that the game but inexperienced trio will remain a part of it. There's no guarantee that Hamilton will return, which would create a need for a replacement. When it comes down to addressing the issue, however, a reinforcement should not be acquired through the 2024 NFL Draft.
Sure, Ossenfort and his cohorts will likely be tempted to select a corner or two this coming April. Iowa's Cooper DeJean is a sensational athlete who has the ability to blanket wide receivers and excel as a punt returner. Clemson standout Nate Wiggins is flying up draft boards after receiving First-Team All-ACC honors for his stellar play in 2023.
Arizona Cardinals need to look to free agency if they want to improve at the cornerback position
But while both of those cornerback prospects are loaded with potential, what the Cardinals desperately need at the position is experience. Working in the club's favor is the fact that Ossenfort will have plenty of salary-cap room to work with during free agency. Money that could be spent on bringing in a difference-making cover guy who's been around the block a time or two.
One name that is being connected to the Redbirds is Houston Texans veteran Steven Nelson. The 31-year-old played for Jonathan Gannon back in 2021, when the Cards head coach was in charge of the Philadelphia Eagles defense. This past season, Nelson totaled 63 tackles, four interceptions and 12 passes defensed for the Texans.
There are a couple of other intriguing corners who could also pique Arizona's interest. Jaylon Johnson racked up 36 tackles, four picks, and 10 pass breakups in 14 starts for the Chicago Bears. L'Jarius Sneed was credited with 78 tackles, two interceptions, and 14 passes defensed for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Nelson, Johnson, and Sneed are all outstanding defenders. Adding any one of the three to the Cardinals' youthful contingent of cornerbacks would greatly improve the squad. Brace yourself "Birdgang", the free-agent signing period is now just two months away.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)