Cornerback is still a position where the Arizona Cardinals could use an infusion of talent. If that talent came with experience of winning a Super Bowl and a Pro-Bowl pedigree, then all the better.
There’s one veteran left on the free-agent market who fits the bill perfectly. He lifted the Lombardi Trophy as a key member of one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.
The seasoned cover man is also somebody one NFL writer believes would stabilize a shaky defensive backfield in Arizona that “still has holes.”
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Super Bowl CB the Best of Remaining FA Options
While putting together a to-do list for every team for the rest of the offseason, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski named adding a veteran cornerback as one of the Cardinals’ priorities. Sobleski identified three corners general manager Steve Keim should be looking at: “Joe Haden, Chris Harris Jr. or Xavier Rhodes could help solidify things.”
Of the three, Chris Harris Jr. stands out thanks to his stellar, 11-year career with the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers. The 32-year-old earned All-Pro honors in 2016 and has also been named to four Pro Bowls.
His undoubted highlight came with the Broncos during the 2015 season. Harris helped an awesome defense carry an ageing Peyton Manning and a soporific Denver offense to victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Harris’ stats included 16 starts, two interceptions, six pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles. He joined Aqib Talib to form a shutdown coverage partnership behind an elite pass-rush led by bookend edge terrors DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.
Harris hasn’t completed a full season since, but he’s still been an effective corner. He went to the Pro Bowl in 2018 after breaking up 10 passes and intercepting three others, the last standout season of a prodigious spell with the Broncos:
It was a fitting swan-song for Harris in Denver, and he’s been competent with the Chargers, despite a few problems staying healthy. A foot injury landed him on injured reserve three weeks into the 2020 season and cost Harris seven games. An injured shoulder kept him out of three games last season.
The injuries didn’t prevent Harris from still making game-changing plays when he made it onto the field. Like this pivotal theft against the Las Vegas Raiders:
Harris has the opportunist streak the Cardinals need in a secondary routinely picked apart last season.
Cardinals Taking Risk Standing Still
The Cardinals appear content to head into the new campaign with Byron Murphy and Marco Wilson manning the primary cornerback spots. It’s a risky strategy considering how often opposing teams found joy by taking to the air against Arizona’s defense in 2021.
Coordinator Vance Joseph’s unit was burned for 3,645 yards and 30 passing touchdowns. Keim did add Jeff Gladney, a former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings, but this group is still lacking a marquee name.
Without one, there isn’t much hope a sketchy pass defense will improve. Not when the defense’s ability to generate pressure has been weakened by Chandler Jones jumping ship to the Raiders in free agency.
The Cards did move to replenish their options on the edges by selecting Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft. Yet, it’s still reasonable how consistently a group sans Jones will be able to bring the heat and protect those suspect corners.
Putting a noted ball hawk like Harris on the back end would make things look a whole lot better at both ends of Joseph’s defense.