The Buffalo Bills need to reinforce their cornerback room. Only three CBs from the 2021 roster are currently under contract for 2022, and one of them (Tre’Davious White) is recovering from a torn ACL.
Whether or not the Bills re-sign Levi Wallace, they could turn to free agency to add a player or two into the picture.
A number of cornerback options are set to see pricey contracts when free agency opens. J.C. Jackson will probably set the market with a $20 million-per-year contract that the Bills can’t touch, and Carlton Davis probably doesn’t follow far behind. But it isn’t out of the question that the Bills pony up $10 million annually, if they’re serious about getting a strong opposite pairing for Tre’ White (or opposite Dane Jackson, if White is still rehabbing his ACL injury). $10 million per year is probably what Levi Wallace’s agent wants to secure, at any rate.
With these players, though, there’s always the risk that a team will use the franchise tag before they can even hit free agency. Their value makes the move worthwhile.
One of the absolute bargains of 2021 was the Green Bay Packers signing Douglas off of a practice squad, for him to become a starter, allow a 44.2 passer rating when targeted, and score as many touchdowns from interception returns as he allowed in coverage (2).
The 6’2”, 209-lb CB, turning 27 this year, is due a major pay raise. Although teams might be looking for a one- or two-year deal, since he’s coming off a breakout season.
The former UDFA burst onto the scene with four pass breakups in the 2018 playoffs, and has been a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs ever since. He’ll turn 26 this year, and was tagged with a second-round tender (and paid $3.4 million) last year. A $10 million-per-year extension is the kind of market he’s hoping for. In 2021, he had ten pass breakups, two interceptions, and allowed a 79.4 passer rating in coverage.
The eight-time Pro Bowl cornerback will be 32 years old next season, but after his Arizona Cardinals career petered out, he played well for the Minnesota Vikings in 2021. He missed four games from a hamstring injury, but had 45 tackles, an interception, and five pass breakups in the rest of his season.
Peterson was paid $8 million last season. He’ll probably be roughly around that number on his next contract. It’s a high price but not the same level as the $18 or $30 million commitments that some other cornerbacks might be seeking.
Hayward’s past his prime, turning 33 this year, but he’s been a key starter for years and years. He played 94 percent of snaps for the Las Vegas Raiders on a one-year, $2.5 million deal in 2021. All in all, he played like a fringe starting cornerback, with an interception, nine passes defended, and 46 total tackles on the season.
If the Bills, concerned about Tre’ White’s availability, want a veteran presence ready to roll next year, this 11th-year veteran can jump right in and play.
Rhodes played well for the Indianapolis Colts in 2020, which earned him a pay raise on another one-year contract, up to $4.8 million. But calf and hamstring injuries hampered his performance this season, and led him to miss four games.
Rhodes will be 32 in 2022. Entering his tenth pro season, the contract price will probably dip a little bit, but this is still a player who can compete to start for his team.
It was a rough year for Fuller, who had his first season without an interception, was benched, and allowed a 119.8 passer rating when targeted. Only three years ago, Fuller was in the Pro Bowl, so maybe he’s a buy-low candidate? He’ll almost certainly make less than the one-year, $9.5 million contract he played under in 2021 when he bet on himself.
There’s still time to keep the Carolina Panthers pipeline intact. Jackson, a former second-round pick, has 12 interceptions and 38 passes defended in his four career seasons. He’s flown under the radar, playing for bad Panthers teams the whole time. He’ll turn 27 during the season.
There’s a chance that the Panthers use a franchise tag, but if they don’t, he’s the kind of player who could sign a large deal with the right team.
If the Bills were serious about adding athleticism to their secondary, then the former first-round pick, who ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, definitely qualifies. Apple’s whole career has been inconsistent, but he had a nice year starting for the Cincinnati Bengals, and is one of the reasons they’re playing in the Super Bowl.
There are plenty of other cornerbacks with starting experience the Bills could consider. Among them are Sidney Jones, Fabian Moreau, Steven Nelson, Chandon Sullivan, P.J. Williams, and Darious Williams. Do any of these players sound like someone you want the Bills to sign for 2022?
- All-22 Year in review: Levi Wallace
- All-22 Year in review: Dane Jackson
- Contract projection for CB Levi Wallace
- Bills don’t have in-house depth to replace Levi Wallace
- Free agents who could replace Levi Wallace
- 2022 NFL Draft prospects at CB
- Opinion: Bills should upgrade the CB2 spot from Levi Wallace this offseason