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Position Primer: Top CBs set to become free agents

With the new league year beginning at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, looks at several NFL experts' lists of the top 100 free agents and their views on the top players at each position.

First up are the cornerbacks set to hit the market.

The Giants currently have five cornerbacks under contract for the 2020 season, all of whom joined the team in the last two years. Grant Haley was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018, while Sam Beal was taken in the supplemental draft. DeAndre Baker (first-round), Julian Love (fourth-round) and Corey Ballentine (sixth-round) were all members of the team's 2019 draft class.

Byron Jones

2019 stats: 15 games, 46 tackles (37 solo), six passes defended, one forced fumble

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 8) "Jerry Jones isn't one to lose his stars, but he's in a bit of a bind with Jones as the talented third wheel, tagging along behind Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper in the contract line. A rate athlete, Jones started his career at safety before moving to his current cornerback role that calls for the weekly stifling of top receiving threats."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 9) "A move to cornerback rejuvenated Jones' career in 2018, as he showed that he could play single coverage on the outside at a high level. He finished with the 14th-best coverage grade among corners in 2018 (80.4) before dropping to 21st in 2019 (74.8), but those are extremely valuable numbers as he hits the open market. Many will point to Jones not picking off a pass over the last two years, but his 74.1 coverage grade in single coverage is 11th-best during that time, and he has also shown the ability to match up against tight ends when called upon. Jones brings youth and coverage ability to the open market, making him the top defensive free agent heading into the offseason."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 21) "It had long been thought that Jones would be the odd man out of the Cowboys' 2019-20 free-agency classes, but that was before they transitioned to coach Mike McCarthy. Will McCarthy have a different set of priorities? Jones has intercepted only two passes in his career, but he is highly athletic and has knocked away 43 passes. During the past two seasons, he has the fourth-best forced incompletion rate, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF)."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 12) "He can play corner and safety, but he didn't play as well as expected on the corner last year. Even so, he's young enough and versatile enough to be a big-ticket free agent."

Chris Harris Jr.

2019 stats: 16 games, 56 tackles (44 solo), one interception, six passes defended, one forced fumble, one tackle for loss

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 24) "Excelling in the slot or outside, Harris has been one of the game's most respected and effective covermen over the past half-decade. More of a shadow corner under Vic Fangio last season, the 30-year-old lost some one-on-one battles that seemed out of character for a perennial Pro Bowler. In which case, a change of scenery may put him in a better position to recapture peak form."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 10) "Another top coverage player, Harris has an extended track record of success, but he's going to be 31 at the start of the 2020 season. He's also coming off his worst season, finishing with a slightly above-average coverage grade of 66.8. However, this was the first season of Harris' career that saw him play exclusively on the outside after he spent the majority of his career cementing his standing as the best slot corner of the decade with more than enough talent to hold his own on the outside when needed. Harris is an intriguing candidate for teams looking to put him back in the slot, where he excels in both man and zone coverage."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 27) "Harris is older than an ideal free-agent cornerback, but was still playing at a high level in 2019, his ninth NFL season. The Broncos might choose to get younger at the position, which would put Harris on the open market for the first time in his career."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 8) "At 31, he is still a good cover player who can play inside and outside. There is great value in that. He isn't slowing down, either." ranks the top 101 players in the 2020 free agency cycle.

James Bradberry

2019 stats: 15 games, 65 tackles (51 solo), three interceptions, 12 passes defended, 1.0 sack, one tackle for loss, one QB hit

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 37) "Bradberry has often been trusted to track the opposing team's No. 1 receiver and already has 60 starts under his belt. The Panthers could franchise tag him to keep him away from Ron Rivera in Washington."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 40) "Bradberry is a four-year starter who has spent his career matching up against the NFC South's battalion of elite receivers. He intercepted a career-high three passes in 2019 and could be the top corner available on the market."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 27) "He thinks he's an elite corner, but he's not that. He is, however, a nice starter who will help a team in need of coverage ability. He's started 47 games the past three seasons."

Logan Ryan

2019 stats: 16 games, 113 tackles (73 solo), four interceptions, 18 passes defended, 4.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, four tackles for loss, eight QB hits

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 49) "Expect to hear Ryan floated as a Honey Badger type capable of transforming a secondary with his coach-like instincts and intelligence as a versatile back-end leader."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 43) "Ryan has had a solid career, and he hits free agency once again after three years in Tennessee. He's a slot corner who has graded between 62.0 and 76.2 in coverage in all but one year of his seven-year career, and that level of consistency makes him an intriguing candidate for teams looking for help in the slot. Ryan has generally been an excellent tackler, though 20 of his 49 career misses came in 2019."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 70) "Ryan had never been more productive than he was in 2019, intercepting four passes and knocking down a career-high total of 18. He also forced four fumbles and recorded 113 tackles, both career highs."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 43) "He is coming off a good season for the Titans, but he is closing in on 30 and he is limited in terms of man-coverage skills. He does have a knack for making plays in the Tennessee defense."

Kendall Fuller

2019 stats: 11 games, 49 tackles (34 solo), two passes defended, 1.0 sack, three tackles for loss, one QB hit

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 50) "Fuller's terrific performance in the Super Bowl was a reminder that he's had stretches of Pro Bowl-quality play throughout his career. His ability to transition to safety showed his versatility."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 53) "There's no arguing that Kendall Fuller's career has been heading south at a rapid rate of knots, but we are just two years removed from him looking like the best slot defender in the NFL. In 2017, Fuller earned an overall PFF grade of 90.6 thanks to four interceptions and eight pass breakups; he allowed a passer rating of just 56.7 and only 9.3 yards per catch. The Chiefs moved Fuller to safety where his play fell off a cliff, but a new team might try and resurrect his best play in the slot given that he is just 25 and should theoretically have his best football ahead of him."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 73) "No one looking at Fuller's 2019 tape will be excited to offer him a free-agent deal. But he is still very young and could be well-served by a change in scenery."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 60) "He might have helped his value late last season with time at safety, which shows his versatile style. Has excelled at slot corner at times as well."

Trae Waynes

2019 stats: 14 games, 58 tackles (56 solo), one interception, eight passes defended, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, four tackles for loss

Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling, (FA No. 56) "Waynes, a former first-round pick, quietly improved after a rocky start to his career, evolving into a physical and reliable starter."

Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus- (FA No. 45) "As a former first-round draft pick, Trae Waynes hasn't become the star that the Minnesota Vikings would have been hoping for, but he has developed into a consistently viable starter who excels in the run game while showing enough glimpses of coverage ability to keep teams buying into his overall potential. Waynes has impressive speed, but he has never been able to consistently avoid getting beaten enough to rank among the better corners in the game. He's given up 16 touchdowns over the last four seasons."

Kevin Seifert, ESPN- (FA No. 38) "Waynes didn't become a full-time starter until his third season with the Vikings, and after playing out his fifth-year option, he would be older than most first-time free agents. But the Vikings' salary-cap limitations seem likely to put Waynes on the open market."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports- (FA No. 37) "The way Xavier Rhodes played last season for the Vikings, they might want to keep Waynes. He's not a star corner, but he is a capable starter for any team."


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