NFL

Cardinals positional needs and review: Cornerback

The Arizona Cardinals are in the offseason and are evaluating what to do to improve and address the roster in 2021.

As we have done previously with the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line positions, as well as inside and outside linebacker, we will look at each position group, how it did in 2020, who is on the roster moving forward, and what the Cardinals need at the position moving forward.

Next up are the cornerbacks.

2020 season

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After having an absolutely atrocious pass defense in 2019, the pass defense in 2020 was actually pretty solid. That was without the cornerbacks player particularly well. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t outstanding, and were it not for some untimely injuries against the Miami Dolphins, their numbers would have been even better and they would have made the playoffs. In that game, they played without Byron Murphy, who was on the COVID list, and Dre Kirkpatrick, who was injured. Then Kevin Peterson got hurt during the game, leading to the Cardinals having to use Jace Whittaker and De’Vante Bausby in the game. Patrick Peterson looked outstanding in some games but some bad plays made him look washed up. Kirkpatrick wasn’t bad but had some very untimely and costly penalties. Murphy improved over his rookie season but lacked some consistency.

Roster outlook

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Alford: Released this week, saving $7.5 million in cap space ($1.5 million in dead money) Johnathan Joseph: Unrestricted free agent Dre Kirkpatrick: Unrestricted free agent Byron Murphy: Signed through 2022 ($2.2 million cap hit in 2021) Kevin Peterson: Unrestricted free agent Patrick Peterson: Unrestricted free agent Picasso Nelson: Signed futures deal for 2021 Jace Whittaker: Signed futures deal for 2021

Offseason needs

Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

2021 offseason need: Critical

The Cardinals have only one player on the roster with any significant experience playing — Murphy. They need to decide whether to bring back Patrick Peterson. He has made it clear he wants to come back, putting pressure on the team, but we do not know what his contract demands are. He is still a very good cornerback but he appears to have lost a step and is simply very good. Where should Murphy play? His natural position is in the slot, but would the Cardinals be better suited having him as their No. 2 corner? They figure to add two veterans in free agency and draft one. If Peterson doesn’t return, then of the cornerbacks who were on the roster last season, maybe Joseph returns. Otherwise, it will be a vastly different-looking cornerback room in 2021. Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Latest show:

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