New Orleans Saints: 3 veteran cornerback options to consider
By Darral Nail
If New Orleans Saints fans were wondering if the team might indeed be interested in making a late-offseason addition at the cornerback position, their question was answered last week when veteran free agent Dre Kirkpatrick visited New Orleans.
Coach Sean Payton’s team features what amounts to a glaring hole in their projected lineup opposite Marshon Lattimore, and the options to replace departed 2020 starter Janoris Jenkins from among the current roster are made up almost entirely of unproven young and/or fringe-roster players.
Even if, as many hope, incoming rookie Paulson Adebo were to prove capable of holding down a starting spot in his first NFL season, it would do little to aid a seemingly perilous lack of depth at the position.
While Kirkpatrick, an eight-year vet who has charted an admirable career in the NFL as an outside corner, would represent a convenient schematic fit for the man coverage-heavy Saints defense, he is not the only such player on the open market.
Here are a few cornerbacks that the New Orleans Saints should sign.
In a story that writes itself, Lattimore’s former counterpart at Ohio State lingers on the open market at the same time the Saints are openly courting veteran starters.
If the intent in Conley’s camp is to wait things out and angle for a market-driven contract then the former Buckeye teammates are not likely to be reunited.
Should Conley instead signal his willingness to entertain a team-friendly “prove it” deal and bet on himself within what could be an ideal on-field situation alongside Lattimore and fellow Buckeye Malcolm Jenkins, perhaps the story could gain some legs.
While perhaps not an ideal plug-and-play candidate the likes of Kilpatrick on the boundary, D.J. Hayden would nonetheless bring a versatile and veteran presence to a Saints backend that values the former and is short on the latter in terms of the pure cornerbacks on their roster.
Maybe Hayden isn’t a dynamo in the press, but he displays a knack for staying in front of receivers and posted impressive coverage metrics as recently as the 2019 season.
As a player, Hayden is not dissimilar to a Patrick Robinson, except younger and with more starting experience on the outside. Perhaps most importantly, he would figure to command a near-minimum salary on the heels of an injury riddled 2020 campaign.
If unable to come to terms with Kirkpatrick, the Saints could shift their focus toward his nominal 2020 Cardinal teammate.
Though he would not see the field in Arizona, the soon-to-be 33 year-old Amukamara had been a virtual workhorse in the secondary heading into his tenth season in the league and appears healthy and available for a true stop-gap turn with a team like New Orleans in need of competent options with experience manning a starting spot.
A perpetually underrated performer in his prime, Amukamara is entering the final of a three-year, $27 million contract he signed in 2018 with Chicago had the Bears not chosen to part with him for cap reasons following a 2019 season in which he started 15 games.
These three cornerbacks could be options for the Saints in 2021 should they not agree to terms with Dre Kirkpatrick.