The Chargers have a top-5 corner in Casey Hayward. In a 4-game stretch last year, Hayward gave up 1 catch for a measly 6 yards. He has a whole deep 3rd of the field locked down and follows #1 receivers where ever they go. Opposite of Casey Hayward, the team needs to find out who that is going to be.
Michael Davis is far from an elite corner, but he doesn’t typically give up the deep play. He will give up short stuff and clean up with a tackle, which is what Bradley asks of his corners. He only gave up 1 pass of over 30 yards all season and 1 TD on the year. He is a capable starter and the team missed him in his suspension after the Mexico City game. He should be tendered as a restricted free agent.
Desmond King is limited to his slot role and rarely plays outside. I am not sure if the team doesn’t trust him to run deep as a defender, or just like his ability to cover the flats and hook routes. He took a big step back last year, per PFF, with a 67.8 coverage grade, compared to his 90.1 last year. Neither King, nor Davis’s playing time is guaranteed next year and both could potentially be replaced by a Free Agent below:
- Byron Jones – Dallas Cowboys
- James Bradberry – Carolina Panthers
- Chris Harris Jr. – Denver Broncos
- Darquez Dennard – Cincinnati Bengals
- Jimmy Smith – Baltimore Ravens
- Bradley Roby – Houston Texans
- Kendal Fuller – Kansas City Chiefs
- Brian Poole – New York Jets
- Ronald Darby – Philadelphia Eagles
- Price Amukamara – Chicago Bears
- Mackenzie Alexander – Minnesota Vikings
- Trae Wayne’s – Minnesota Vikings
- Kevin Johnson – Buffalo Bills
- Logan Ryan – Tennessee Titans
- Trumaine Johnson – New York Jets
- Jalen Mills – Philadelphia Eagles
- PJ Williams – New Orleans Saints
- Vernon Hargreaves – Houston Texans
- Daryl Worley – Oakland Raiders
- Jason Verrett – San Francisco 49ers
The Chargers have a lot of cap heading into free agency, so there is reason to believe that they could target a top defender to play opposite Hayward. From an athletic standpoint, Byron Jones has all the tools you want in a corner. He’s 6’0, 200 pounds with 4.4 speed and he could probably win every jump ball with extreme leaping ability. He is a strong tackler and doesn’t give up big plays in coverage. He doesn’t get enough hands on balls without many turnovers or pass deflections. He is a little over-hyped and may be overpaid, but he is a baller and is a starter on any team.
Chris Harris Jr.
Chris Harris was once a top-5 corner in the league and would routinely follow the best receiver every week. He is still a great player and still creates headaches for offensive coordinators, but he’s not the same player he once was. He had the worst season of his career last year and that may bring his price tag down a bit. Giving up over 50 yards receiving 6 times a year will do that, but that was to Tyreek Hill (x2), TY Hilton, Odell Beckham Jr and DeAndre Hopkins. The team is very familiar with the All-Pro and the Chargers would be crazy to not try and lure Harris from the division rival Broncos.
If Chris Harris has a down year, Ronald Darby was atrocious. He was targeted 69 times and gave up 39 catches for 664 yards and 6 touchdowns. Some of that can be attributed to injury, but that was not a good year for the young corner. The reason I’m targeting Ronald Darby is because of the year he had in 2017, when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Darby’s down year might make him more affordable on a 1-year prove deal. He’s only 26 years old, and he has a lot to play for.
One of the most highly touted corners coming out of the 2015 NFL Draft, Trae Waynes has grossly underwhelmed in his time with the Vikings. He can be very hit or miss in coverage. He was targeted 84 times last year and gave up 61 completions for 653 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was a liability, but I’m banking on a rebound with a short term contract based off his talent. He is best used in man rather than zone, so he isn’t the best fit in Gus Bradley’s defense. Still, he has the measurables to be a top corner, especially with 4.3 speed. He could be a coupon steal.
I know I am about to catch a ton of heat for this, but hear me out. Every year, Verrett has a phenomenal camp! He looks every bit the part of a number 1 corner on the field. He won the starting spot for the 49er defense last year that nearly won the Super Bowl, but he had another season ending leg issue early on. I know that there is so much injury history with Verrett, but it is just a matter of time until he gets it together. A 1-year, $2M contract is a low cost with a very high reward, once Verrett has luck swing back his way. Plus, he looks better in blue then he does red anyways.
I am extremely excited to see if the Bolts bring in another veteran in free agency. There are a few big names like Byron Jones and James Bradberry that while expensive, can be lock down players in the secondary. There are also coupon finds that Telesco can bring in to compete with Michael Davis and improve the depth at the position.
Ideal Scenario: The Chargers sign Chris Harris Jr. to a 2-year, $20M contract and bring home Jason Verrett on a 1-year $2M contract for the potential break out year he needs.