Cardinals Named ‘Ideal’ Trade Partner for 2020 First-Round CB

Getty C.J. Henderson celebrates after making an interception against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Arizona Cardinals are in win-now mode. General manager Steve Keim knows this.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler’s report came out of nowhere that Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback C.J. Henderson is available via trade.

The Jaguars could very well hold on to the 2020 ninth overall pick Henderson.

But rest assured teams will make calls to Jacksonville.

Keim should make that call.


Why Arizona Makes Sense For Henderson

Pro Football Focus’s Anthony Treash wrote this:

Right now, the Cardinals are set to enter Week 1 with Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford as their two starting outside corners. Butler still has plenty in the tank and will hold up fine, but Alford is far from trustworthy at this point in his career. He hasn’t played a down of football since the 2018 season, a year in which he earned a 53.1 coverage grade that ranked 108th of 120 qualifying cornerbacks. That could be a detriment to an Arizona team battling against strong offenses in the NFC West.
Led by defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, the Cardinals ran man coverage at a top-three rate last season. This move makes too much sense for both parties.

Treash also listed the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets as other landing spots, but you could make the case the Cardinals are the readiest to win of the three.

Despite adding Malcolm Butler in the offseason, the Cards could use another body. They missed out on big-name targets and could deepen the CB room. It could be a chance to reunite Henderson with Marco Wilson, ex-teammates in Florida.

The Cardinals need at corner and similar coverage packages to what Henderson ran in Jacksonville seem like a match made in heaven.

 

Finances wouldn’t be an issue either, as the Jaguars have already paid Henderson most of his rookie contract.


Henderson Highly Rated Out of College

While Jeff Okudah was the first cornerback drafted in 2020, there were analysts who liked Henderson more. Henderson’s speed and athleticism were put on display against elite college wide receivers like Ja’Marr Chase.

Former NFL CB Eric Crocker, creator of The Crocker Report, rated Henderson as his CB1 in 2020.

Teams coveted Henderson as well. News came out on draft day that the Atlanta Falcons were willing to trade up for Henderson. Jacksonville at nine could’ve easily traded down but stood tall and selected Henderson.


Underwhelming 2020 Season

Henderson was a bully in his first NFL game against the division rival Indianapolis Colts.

Henderson showed flashes here and there. But just like the rest of the team after an upset week one win, Henderson had a challenging season. He was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury and underwent labrum surgery in March 2021.

Inconsistency was also an issue with Henderson. According to PFF, Henderson allowed the eighth-highest coverage snaps per reception mark at 8.2 among rookie corners with at least 100 coverage snaps. Henderson also allowed the sixth-highest yards per coverage snap with 1.58 and only five rookie cornerbacks allowed more touchdown receptions than Henderson’s four.

Lapses can happen with any rookie cornerback. An eight-game sample of a season isn’t enough to stray away from the 22-year-old.


Henderson’s Trade Value

The Jaguars will likely want to receive at least one first-round draft pick in return for Henderson. At the same time, this draft pick wasn’t made by the current Jaguars front office.

It’s apparent that Urban Meyer doesn’t have much to say about Henderson coming back from the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

When it comes to draft picks, they are like cars. Once the pick is made, it’s already lost value. It’d have to take being an All-Pro at the position to be worth more, which Henderson hasn’t shown. Would it take a third-round pick? Possibly, but meeting in the middle and losing a second-round pick could work. It’d be shocking if the Jaguars could get back a first-round pick, but you never know.

Maybe Arizona adds unhappy Chandler Jones in a trade to not trade a high pick? But it’s doubtful, and Jones has the capability of impacting the team even more.

Henderson is definitely a prospect to bank on. The Cardinals would be foolish to not explore, but it will be key if he’s available and if the price tag makes sense.


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