The Oakland Raiders appear to be players in the free agent cornerback market this year.
There’s a few big names, but after Trumaine Johnson was tagged, not many notable young ones. In this piece, we analyze the current market for free agent cornerbacks.
Sean Smith, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs as it looks now, is the most coveted of any free agent corner at this time. He’ll be 29 years old by opening week, but there’s been little indication that his play is dropping off.
The question is what he’s looking for: a championship, a big payday, or a deal with some long term security.
The Raiders’ need at corner is intriguing. One one hand, there’s never a reason not to take a look at a high-level player, especially at defensive back.
Smith will likely land a deal worth around $7 million per year, over about four years.
Janoris Jenkins, who could still re-sign with the Rams, isn’t nearly as talented as Smith. His play has also been wildly inconsisitent, having exceptional games, and then giving up big plays the next week.
He’s 27 years old, and has allowed 10 touchdowns over the last two seasons, while recording five picks and 12 passes defensed. That doesn’t seem like an upgrade, and despite the wild media attention that Jenkins has received in regard to free agency, it feels a bit unfounded.
It seems reasonable that Jenkins gets a four-year deal with around $5 million per season, plus incentives.
Jerraud Powers, who will be entering his eight NFL season and turns 29 this April, has numbers that aren’t equal to Smith’s, but significantly better than Jenkins’.
He’s not an interception machine, with only five picks over the last three seasons spent opposite of Patrick Peterson, but is a quality defender who is actually relatively similar to Vontae Davis, who signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the Colts in 2014.
It’s possible that Powers ends up with more money annually than Jenkins, but with a shorter term.
Powers should command a two-year deal with around $7 million per year, possibly with heavy guarantees and incentives.
Prince Amukamara is another quality player, but with youth on his side. Playing the bulk of his career as the top corner for the Giants, Amukamara has never given up more than three touchdowns in a single season.
The caveat is that he’s also missed 18 games since becoming a starter in 2012.
Stats have never been a big part of his package, but judging him solely on these silly yet helpful things would be a mistake. He feels like someone who could possibly get the most cash from cornerback needy teams.
The problem, though, is that his agent will likely have a tough time making that pitch since one needs numbers to show teams. which I have an example of below.
I believe that his representative has something similar to the example that I have below, and that Amukamara gets a four-year, $28 million with about 50 percent guaranteed.
Jeremy Lane rounds out this list, which has been intentionally shortened due to an overwhelming number of corners who appear to be similar.
Don’t mistake that for impact, though. Lane proved to be an effective nickel back with the Seahawks, and it’s his time to cash in. Making Lane a number one corner would be a mistake, but there’s a major gain for the Raiders if Lane is the number three.
Beyond the element of depth, Lane has the size and speed to track some of the younger and faster slot receivers in the league. Taking it back to 2011, Victor Cruz went off, and not to take anything away from him, but a part of that was the lack of emphasis for teams to employ quality nickel corners.
Since then we’ve seen teams turn it up a notch, especially with rules that create an undeniable advantage for offenses.
Lane figures to cash in at around $5 million per season, with a deal stretching as long as five years. Very similar to the deal Buster Skrine received last year.
Cheap with upside
The following players are quality reserves at least, with upside, and that probably won’t command over $4 million per year, but could easily outplay their salaries:
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.