In the pass-happy NFL, help in the secondary is always needed. The cornerback crop in the 2013 NFL free agent class was considered solid though not spectacular, but several corners have already landed big pay days, with perhaps more on the horizon. The 2013 franchise tag number for cornerbacks, an average of the salaries given to the top five players at the position last season, is $10.854 million, behind only quarterbacks and defensive ends, and just slightly above wide receivers, the players corners are paid handsomely to shut down.
With teams always looking to add depth in the defensive backfield, here's a quick look at the biggest contracts handed out to cornerbacks during the 2013 offseason and a glimpse at those corners yet to sign who are assuredly on teams' radar.
1. Keenan Lewis, New Orleans Saints - five years, $25.55 million ($5.11 million per season, $6 million signing bonus)
2. Chris Houston, Detroit Lions - five years, $25 million ($5 million per season, $6.5 million signing bonus, $9.5 million guaranteed)
3. Derek Cox, San Diego Chargers - four years, $20 million ($5 million per season, $5.2 million signing bonus, $10.25 million guaranteed)
4. Sean Smith, Kansas City Chiefs - three years, $18 million ($5.5 million per season, $6.75 million signing bonus, $7.465 million guaranteed)
A wily old veteran, Jammer has proved a consistent corner over his 11-year career in San Diego. Only three times in that span did he not play an entire 16-game season, and he played in at least 14 games for the Chargers each year. Newly minted Derek Cox will replace Jammer in the San Diego secondary.
The Cleveland Browns decided to part ways with Brown, making the 34-year-old a free agent. Much like Jammer, Brown could be a valuable addition to a team's defensive backfield depth despite his age. Basically, Brown and Jammer are the same guy at this point in their careers.
Though not a free agent, the ongoing saga of the New York Jets and Darrelle Revis should be noted in any talk of the 2013 cornerback market. New York and Tampa Bay have reportedly been engaged in trade talks, but it appears the Jets' demand of Tampa Bay's first-round pick this season (13th overall) has brought the negotiations to a halt. The Buccaneers reportedly want to offer next year's first-round pick instead for the corner. If moved, Revis is asking for upwards of $16 million a year, a figure that would dwarf the deals of the corners noted above.
For the sake of comparison, below are the top five contracts handed out to cornerbacks one year ago, during the 2012 free agency period. The 2012 crop of corners was more highly regarded overall than this year's group, and that is reflected in the salaries handed out one year ago. Despite the 2013 salary cap being roughly $3 million dollars more than the 2012 cap, cornerbacks collectively raked in significantly more dollars last offseason. There were three players that signed contracts in the $50 million range, which is double what the largest contract in 2013 has been. Even the fourth largest contract in 2012 was $4 million more than the largest contract signed by a corner in 2013.
2012's Biggest CB Contracts
5. Stanford Routt, Kansas City Chiefs - three years, $19.6 million ($6 million per season, $4 million signing bonus, $4.825 million guaranteed)