WHO’S POTENTIALLY OUT THERE?
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal released his list of the top 101 potential free agents and has the following 17 players on his list as of Monday:
18. Shaquill Griffin, 25. William Jackson, 31. Jason Verrett, 32. Ronald Darby, 38. Mike Hilton, 45. Malcolm Butler, 49. Richard Sherman, 51. Xavier Rhodes, 52. Michael Davis, 55. Janoris Jenkins, 58. K’Waun Williams, 60. Patrick Peterson, 73. Desmond King, 76. Bashaud Breeland, 81. Quinton Dunbar, 82. Casey Hayward, 86. Troy Hill and 95. Chidobe Awuzie
The Vikings have become familiar with Griffin, considering the number of times they’ve played the Seahawks over the past four years. Rosenthal called Griffin’s career in Seattle “streaky” but still considers him an “above-average starting cornerback” for a team in the market.
Jackson has spent the past four seasons with the Bengals and has started 48 of 59 games played.
A vet in the league, Verrett has spent his six seasons in California between four years with the Chargers and the past two in San Francisco. The biggest knock on Verrett is durability; he’s totaled just 39 games (35 starts) in those six seasons, having dealt with knee and Achilles issues.
Darby has made his living on short contracts, having spent time in Buffalo (2015-16), Philadelphia (2017-19) and Washington (2020). Will he find a fourth team for the 2021 campaign?
Rosenthal described Hilton as a slot corner who would bring “energy and versatility” to a team’s secondary.
Butler put up career-high numbers for the Titans last season, starting all 16 games and racking up four interceptions, 100 tackles (league stats) and 14 passes defensed. He could be a good pick for a team willing to snag him.
Competing with Peterson for the most-decorated player on this list, Sherman will turn 33 on March 30 but could have gas left in the tank. After playing the majority of his career with the Seahawks, he’s played the past three with the division-rival 49ers. An injury sidelined him for most of the 2020 campaign, though, and he logged just five games.
Of course, Vikings fans are plenty familiar with Rhodes. The 30-year-old spent his first seven seasons in Minnesota, during which he earned three Pro Bowl nods and in 2017 was named First-Team All-Pro. Rhodes signed with Indianapolis last spring and started all 16 games for the Colts, totaling two interceptions and a touchdown.
Davis recorded a career high with 14 passes defensed and returned an interception of Tom Brady 78 yards for a touchdown in 2020.
Jenkins has been a journeyman of sorts, playing for the Rams, Giants and Saints since being drafted 39th overall in 2012. According to Rosenthal, he ranked 28th in PFF’s grading among 80 cornerbacks who played half of their team’s snaps in 2020.
Williams played just eight games in 2020, making four starts. He totaled 22 tackles, five tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, four passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Peterson is getting up there in age but started all 16 games for the Cardinals last season and recorded three interceptions.
King started five games and appeared in nine for the Titans in 2020 after the Chargers traded him for a sixth-round pick.
Breeland earned consecutive trips to the Super Bowl with Kansas City the past two seasons. He started all 11 games he played in 2020 and snagged two interceptions.
After spending five seasons in Washington, Dunbar signed with Seattle for the 2020 campaign but played just six games.
Hayward, who began his career with the Packers in 2012, was released by the Chargers over the weekend. He has started 95 of 129 regular-season games, recording 100 passes defensed and 23 interceptions.
Described as “competitive as hell” by Rosenthal, it’s possible that Hill could be a hidden gem on this list.
Awuzie’s biggest downfall has been inconsistency, but his interception streak extended to one in each of his four seasons since Dallas drafted him 60th overall in 2017.