The NFL season just ended, but that doesn’t mean we’re finished talking about football. Truthfully, the NFL offseason can be one of the more exciting times in the sport, with free agency, the draft, and trades, not to mention the rumors and speculation swirling around these events. The legal tampering period for the NFL begins in under two weeks, on March 14, and the gold rush officially begins on March 16, so we don’t have much time left before free agency hits.

There are some top-notch cornerbacks set to hit free agency this year, and many of them are in line for a big payday.  If their current teams can’t (or won’t) make some salary cap maneuvers to keep them, these players could all be in for a change of scenery this offseason. Keep your eyes on the following five cornerbacks as free agency approaches.


Bill Belichick has a way of molding undrafted free agents into star players, and J.C. Jackson is just one example of that. Jackson excels at pass break-ups and interceptions, and while he may need improvement on his tackling ability, he still only allowed three touchdown receptions the entire 2021 season. If New England doesn’t keep Jackson, they have to figure something out at the position, but I don’t think they can afford to pay him the salary he has earned. In the event they don’t lock him up, look for the Jets, Eagles, and Bears to all make a play for him.


After being unexpectedly traded to the Carolina Panthers midseason, Stephon Gilmore reminded everyone why he is a two-time All-Pro cornerback. In the eight games he played, Gilmore drew only 22 targets, and while he allowed a higher catch percentage than other corners, his sharp tackling skills allowed for little to no gain on most of those receptions. The Panthers need help in developing Jaycee Horn after he went out for the 2021 season with a foot injury, and a veteran All-Pro could be just the one to do it. If the Panthers decide to move on, the Raiders or 49ers could be on the radar.




Carlton Davis missed almost half of the 2021 season due to injury, but when he was on the field, he was effective, allowing over 50 yards just once in ten games. Tampa Bay has one of the best secondaries in the league, and Davis is the key to that dominance. It’s hard to imagine that the Bucs let Davis walk, but with their cap issues and other key pieces set to depart in free agency, it’s also unlikely that they can work out a long-term deal. A franchise tag would be a short-term solution, but in case that doesn’t happen, the Texans, Eagles, and Ravens would be an excellent fit for Davis’ skill set.


After a down year and cap issues caused him to leave the Chargers, Casey Hayward had a bounce-back year with the Raiders in 2021. He played all 17 games and only allowed over 50 coverage yards in two of those, while also contributing 45 tackles and two interceptions. He seems to have fixed what ailed him in 2020, but he is getting older at almost 33, so that will limit the length of any new contract he signs. The Raiders have plenty of cap space to re-sign him, but if they don’t, the Colts and even the Steelers could be sneaky landing spots.


Charvarius Ward may not have a coverage grade quite as high as some of the other free agent cornerbacks, but he more than makes up for that with his tackling ability. He contributed 72 tackles on the season with a missed tackle rate of only 5 percent. The Chiefs have some tough decisions to make in their secondary, with safety Tyrann Mathieu also set to become a free agent, and if they can’t come to terms on a team-friendly deal, Ward likely walks. The Bengals, Commanders, and Jets are all on the table.




Looking for the rest of the top unsigned free agents? Check out the links below for what's been published already: