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Free-agent cornerbacks who could play for the Buffalo Bills in 2021

These are the potential starters if Levi Wallace isn’t retained.

The Buffalo Bills have a big decision to make with their cornerbacks. Tre’Davious White is a star, but Josh Norman is an unrestricted free agent, and Levi Wallace, a restricted free agent. Do the Bills bring back either player? Do they look to the market for an upgrade, or a cheap veteran? There are several potential starters from this year’s cornerback free-agent class—let’s take a look...


Xavier Rhodes

Rhodes has had some whiplash in his career. The first-round pick grew into a trusted starter with the Minnesota Vikings, was selected to two consecutive Pro Bowls (and an All-Pro team in 2017), then signed a five year, $70 million contract. Less than two years later, he was released, having been one of the league’s worst starting cornerbacks during that time.

He signed a contract for $3 million with the Colts, and rebounded into a good starter on one of the best defenses in the league. He only allowed 51.9 percent of passes to be completed against him, and an 84.5 passer rating when targeted, in his 16 starts. He’s probably due for a pay raise, but maybe not a dramatic one.

Richard Sherman

If the Bills are thinking about players who can help them “win now” and take them over the top, maybe the 33-year-old Sherman would be a fit.

A calf strain landed Sherman on injured reserve for most of the season this year, but in 2019 he was selected to the Pro Bowl. He’s a vocal leader in the clubhouse, and an intelligent, physical matchup cornerback even in the twilight of his career. Sherman just finished a three-year, $27 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers. He might be available for a short-term deal worth $7 or $8 million per year.

Bashaud Breeland

If you wanted to add some attitude to your secondary, you’d go out and get Breeland. He’ll commit his share of penalties for grabby hands, but that’s what makes him so effective in sticky man coverage. Bills fans will know this, having watched Breeland shut down Buffalo’s receivers in the AFC Championship game. Breeland turns 29 this year, and has 88 starts in seven career seasons.

Breeland has played on a handful of cheap one-year deals recently, like the $3 million contract he signed this year. He’ll probably be an affordable option should the Bills show interest.

Desmond King

King is sort of a Micah Hyde type (even coming from the same school), in that he can play safety as well as nickel cornerback or on the outside. He was an All-Pro selection in 2018, but played worse in 2019 and 2020, eventually being traded to the Tennessee Titans. He might be available on a one-year prove-it deal.

Troy Hill

The former undrafted free agent from Oregon has developed into an above-average starter for the Los Angeles Rams. He has eight interceptions and 23 passes defended in the last three years. 2020 was his first season as an every-down starter. Hill is coming off a two-year, $5.25 million contract extension—probably hoping to significantly boost his pay as he turns 30.

Quinton Dunbar

Injuries are a serious problem with Dunbar’s resume—he’s only appeared in 24 of a possible 48 games in the last three seasons. Still, he racked up seven interceptions and 22 passes defended in those games—basically the same counting stats as Hill above, but a much higher rate of production. At 6’2” and 200 lbs, Dunbar has enviable size for an outside cornerback.

Dunbar just finished a three-year, $5.7 million contract by playing six games for the Seattle Seahawks this past season. It’d be surprising if he signed a deal worth more than $3 or $5 million per year now.

Jason Verrett

If Alex Smith weren’t such a shoe-in for Comeback Player of the Year, Verrett would have a strong case. 2016: torn ACL. 2017: knee surgery. 2018: torn Achilles. 2019: ankle surgery. In 2020, Verrett started 13 games, which was more than the previous three years combined. With 60 tackles, two interceptions, and seven passes defended, he was a reliable part of San Francisco’s defense. Verrett played on a one-year, $1 million contract this season. He’ll get a raise this year, but probably not very much.

Michael Davis

A bit of a diamond in the rough, Davis was an undrafted free agent from Brigham Young in 2017. He developed into a starting cornerback for the Chargers, with 26 starts in the last two years. His peripherals are strong—he has as many interceptions (5) as touchdowns allowed in coverage over the past two seasons, on the way to a 78.0 passer rating when targeted. He also has enviable length, at 6’2” and 195 lbs.

Davis played under a one-year, $3.3 million contract in 2020. He’s due for a big payday, whether it’s with the Chargers or another team.

Other names

We haven’t covered all the starters (or depth options) who could be had. Some may be a bit pricey for the Bills to sign, but we can’t rule anything out at this point. To name a few: Shaquill Griffin, Terrance Mitchell, Brian Poole, William Jackson, Cameron Sutton, Kevin Johnson, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hilton. Do any of those players pique your interest?

Poll

Who would you want the Bills to sign at cornerback?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Xavier Rhodes
    (189 votes)
  • 18%
    Richard Sherman
    (234 votes)
  • 23%
    Bashaud Breeland
    (287 votes)
  • 7%
    Desmond King
    (93 votes)
  • 2%
    Troy Hill
    (30 votes)
  • 3%
    Quinton Dunbar
    (47 votes)
  • 4%
    Jason Verrett
    (51 votes)
  • 4%
    Michael Davis
    (61 votes)
  • 14%
    Levi Wallace or Josh Norman
    (176 votes)
  • 5%
    Someone else
    (73 votes)
1241 votes total Vote Now