Packers’ Free Agent Options at Cornerback

The Green Bay Packers allowed a league-worst 8.1 yards per pass attempt in 2016. The defense was consistently torched in the passing game, no worse than in the NFC Championship game against Atlanta, where Matt Ryan threw for 392 yards in a 44-21 rout.

Clearly if the Packers expect to make the leap from playoff team to Super Bowl contender once again in 2017, a difference-making asset in the defensive secondary is of prime importance. Here are some of the free agents available at the cornerback position, separated by their likelihood of being signed.

Pipe Dreams:

It is well established Ted Thompson does not fork out big money for free agents. Even Charles Woodson, arguably his only significant free agent signing since taking over in 2005, came when few other teams showed any interest. Thompson is not one to join a bidding war, which is why the options below would fall under the category of pipe dreams:

  • Trumaine Johnson – The 27-year-old ex-Ram figures to be one of the most sought after free agent corners, and could command a contract of over $40 million. At 6′ 2″ he has good size for a number one corner and is starting to get the respect of one two, as his interceptions went from 7 in 2015 to only one in 2016 as fewer teams threw at him.
  • Prince Amukamara – After five good seasons with the Giants, Amukamara, 27, went to Jacksonville on a one-year deal and is now back on the market. He’s coming off his first season without an interception, but still figures to draw a contract north of $40 million.
  • Stephon Gilmore – At 26 and coming off a career-high five-interception season, Gilmore is expected to be rewarded handsomely to the tune of $14 million per year by whoever signs him. This is a price tag so significant that most reasonable Packers fans would actually be upset if Thompson handicapped the team with such a deal.

Second Tier:

  • Brandon Carr – Although he totaled only seven interceptions in five years with the Cowboys, Carr is an all-around defender who tackles well and plays sideline to sideline. Even though he has reached 30, Carr still figures to draw a salary of around six million per year. This could be in that second tier of free agents Thompson delves into after the first wave of signings.
  • Justin Gilbert – Thompson will have had to like the tape from Gilbert, because the stat sheet does not do much to show his worth. Missing 13 games in three years and rarely seeing the field as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers has diminished the value of the former eighth overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. This could make him available at a team-friendly price.
  • Darius Butler – Playing opposite Vontae Davis for much of his Colts tenure, Butler, 30, totaled 12 interceptions in five seasons. He is hardly anyone’s definition of a shutdown corner, but could provide some leadership in a young secondary.

Third Tier:

Captain Munnerlyn – The former Viking could see some offers as a slot-corner, but at 5’9″ he is undersized to handle a number-one receiver and is not a great fit for Green Bay.

Morris Claiborne – Five years into his career, he has yet to play a full season and has missed 26 games in just the last three years. When healthy, he has managed four interceptions in five seasons.

D.J. Hayden – The 26 year-old Raider is coming off a hamstring injury that ended his 2016 season in December. Thompson would certainly want team doctors to take a look at Hayden before shelling out any cash. If Hayden slips past the first wave or two of free agents, Thompson could give him a look.

Who do you think the Packers could bring in from this list, or other free agent corners available? Let me know in the comments below.

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Zac Bellman is a sports writer, experienced journalist and Marquette University graduate with a degree in journalism. You can read his current articles here on PackersTalk.com. To connect with Zac, follow him on twitter at @ZacBellman_WNY. or check out his Facebook page Zac Bellman-Sportwriter

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8 thoughts on “Packers’ Free Agent Options at Cornerback

  1. Curious if you think AJ Bouye is going to get the franchise tag from the Texans? IMO, he’s the best CB on the market this season.

    I really like the idea of Justin Gilbert and/or DJ Hayden because of the low risk/high reward.

  2. Marcus Cooper, Logan Ryan, Dre Kirkpatrick??? I’d take any of these 3 over any of these “2nd & 3rd” tier guys…

  3. Ted Thompson’s PRIMARY job as GM is to KEEP THE TURNSTILES TURNING and the REVENUES coming in–that means putting a COMPETITIVE team on the field but NOT necessarily a SB winner! It means SELLING JERSEYS, hats, banners, cheesehead hats, etc….until the Packers FANS STOP buying the products and jerseys to show ANGER at lack of ACCOUNTABILITY of COACHES and players who continue to play poorly in playoffs, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN! UNTIL THE ANGER OF THE FANS FOR NOT fixing this team’s POOR DEFENSE, SHOWS UP IN REDUCED REVENUES–Thompson will continue to IGNORE big problems with defense and DUMB Capers pathetic performance as DC over past SIX CONSECUTIVE seasons! This Packers team SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN AS MANY SB’s as the Patriots over past SIX seasons=at LEAST 3! But Capers CAN’T put a quality DEFENSE on the field DESPITE some 70+ NEW players Thompson has signed or drafted since 2011! And Thompson WON’T spend enough money to FIX THE HOLES IN DEFENSE–CAUSE IT CAN’T BE FIXED IN DRAFT EVERY YEAR and FA’s WON’T BE SIGNED UNLESS THEY ARE WILLING TO PLAY FOR DIRT CHEAP!! PROVEN TALENT is MORE VALUABLE than EXPECTATIONS—just LOOK at Capers defense! Thompson takes QUANTITY of players over QUALITY OF TALENT!! He builds a CHEAP team with just a minimal of STARS and CHEAP bench depth! Once the players exit rookie contracts–he REFILLS the bench with more DRAFT picks and lets majority of his own people play out contract and leave. Since 2010 SB winners, nearly HALF of Thompson’s picks are elsewhere or OUT of the league–that’s a LOT of money and talent wasted and ZERO to show for it.

  4. I’d add Bouye and Logan Ryan to the first tier.
    I’d put Amukamara, Munnerlyn, Claiborne in the 2nd tier.
    I’d put Brandon Carr in the 2nd or 3rd tier.
    I’d put Butler, and Gilbert firmly in the 3rd tier.

    Hayden, if healthy, can play as a #1 CB, but I’m wary of season ending hamstrings. Kirkpatrick is a bit of a late bloomer. He was really bad in 2015 and pretty good in 2016 playing on his 5th year option. I am wary of Kirkpatrick, but he is probably a 2nd tier guy. Amakumara is not a tier one guy; he is a #2 CB who plays the run better than the pass. But we’d know what we are getting.

    I like Cockrell and Malcom Butler, who are both RFAs. Have to wait to see what tender their teams put on them or if they sign them long term. Butler was an UDFA

  5. Too late for corners Ted, again! Suffer the fans. Ted is a waste of the immagination.

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