The Buffalo Bills added Josh Norman in 2020 free agency, but it was only a one-year deal. Levi Wallace is a Restricted Free Agent. That’s both of the players who took extensive time at their cornerback position opposite Tre’Davious White one year ago.
So what should the Bills do? In February, we gave you information on all the angles for the position group. Now it’s your time to weigh in! We’ve included excerpts from each article and you can click on the links for more info.
The Buffalo Bills could scheme around Norman’s flaws if he remains in Buffalo and that wouldn’t hurt my feelings any. He played relatively well across multiple styles. It’s easy to envision an upgrade but as Bills fans have seen, harder to become reality. The Bills have tried improving on Wallace for years and always come back to him. Norman seems to be a similar mold, aka “A nice floor.”
It feels like I’ve written this summary before. For years. If Levi Wallace is your weakest link then you’ve got a strong chain. To be clear, I’m not claiming he was an All-Pro snub. I am claiming he’s a capable starter. The Bills have brought in a steady stream of possible replacements and Levi Wallace STILL ends up playing a ton on merit.
One year, $2.5 million up to $6 million
It’s the Jimmy Smith deal combined with the Josh Norman deal. Play like a starter, get the bigger paycheck. A small signing bonus coupled with guaranteed salary (that can be offset if the Bills release him and he signs with another team) and it protects Buffalo’s minimal cap space. Playing time and achievement bonuses are built into the contract, as well, so if he does end up playing at a high level or plays a lot of snaps, he’s rewarded.
One year, $2.133 million
That’s last year’s RFA tender amount and it won’t be the same this year with the cap lowering, we just don’t know what it’s going to be. I think the Bills like Wallace but know he’s limited, which is why they keep trying to replace him. They can’t sign him for less than the tag because why would Wallace do that, so they tender him as an RFA and if he signs elsewhere, he signs elsewhere. I don’t want to guarantee him $3 or $4 million and I don’t think the Bills will want to either.
While both should be part of the mix in the gumbo at cornerback this offseason, neither have proven they are ready to be the full-time starter. When the undrafted Levi Wallace took over, he wasn’t the Plan A either.
Buffalo still needs to bring in another entry into the competition, but Lewis and Jackson can and should be counted on as valuable depth that very well could take the next step in 2021 with another offseason and training camp under their belts (assuming that happens in COVID world).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Partick Surtain II (Alabama)
Jaycee Horn (South Carolina)
Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech)
Tall, polished and smart, Surtain is the cream of the crop this year, even if his athleticism isn’t as eye-opening as the top corners from past drafts. Corners who are 6’1” and 205 lbs rarely show the flexibility that Horn regularly demonstrates, which makes him a valuable fit for either man or zone coverages. Farley has more than enough pure, raw athleticism, but his stiffness may lead him to being a man-coverage specialist.
Aaron Robinson (UCF)
Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State)
Greg Newsome II (Northwestern)
Shaun Wade (Ohio State)
Eric Stokes (Georgia)
Paulson Adebo (Stanford)
Elijah Molden (Washington)
Deommodore Lenoir (Oregon)
1. Let Josh Norman walk
2. Tender or re-sign Levi Wallace
3. Let Dane Jackson compete for CB2
4. Draft a CB high
Now it’s your turn to decide. What should the Bills do at cornerback this offseason?
What should the Bills do at CB2 this offseason?
This poll is closed
Stick with Dane Jackson/Cam Lewis
Tender Levi Wallace to compete with Jackson/Lewis
Re-sign Josh Norman to compete with Jackson/Lewis
Re-sign Wallace & Norman to compete with Jackson/Lewis
Sign a free agent CB2 to compete with Jackson/Lewis
Draft a CB in the first two rounds to compete with Jackson/Lewis
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