The Redskins need cornerback help. One popular notion that has been floating around is that the Redskins will bring in James Bradberry from the Panthers, who is an impending free agent. One issue with that idea has to do with the question of defensive scheme.
See, the Panthers, as we all remember from the Josh Norman signing, played predominately zone defense under Ron Rivera, while Jack Del Rio’s defenses have typically featured an aggressive pass rush paired with predominately man-to-man coverage.
If the Redskins follow the Rivera-Panthers model of mostly zone coverage, then Bradberry would be an ideal fit. Asking him to become a man-cover corner if the Redskins follow Del Rio’s past history would likely see him look as much like a fish out of water as Josh Norman so often looked.
Amukamara is an older veteran (30 y.o.) with more experience playing man-to-man coverage. Many Redskins fans may be very familiar with him from his five years playing for the New York Giants.
The most prominent memory of Amukamura from his days in the NFC East may be that he seemed to be a good cornerback who was always injured. Indeed, the Giants probably let him leave in free agency in 2016 primarily because of the large number of games missed in his five years there. As a Giant, Amukama played in just 55 of a possible 80 regular season games, missing 25 (or 31%).
That troubling issue seems to have been left in the past, with Amukamara missing just 6 regular season games in the past 4 seasons, and not playing in less than 14 games in any year since leaving the Giants. A quick glance at the Passes Defended column will show that Amumkamara has been around the ball, with 22 PDs over the last two seasons. He is also generally thought of as a good tackler who can help in run support.
Amukamara was on a $9m APY deal with the Bears, but was cut as a “cap casualty”. While I’m not sure the veteran cornerback would willingly take a pay cut, it’s hard to imagine any team offering him more than that in 2020, and he may be reaching the point in his career where he will be forced to play one season at a time, having to “prove it” again every year.
He has played fairly well in Chicago, lining up for 849, 978, and 891 snaps in the past three seasons respectively. His PFF grades for those seasons were respectable at 73.3, 81.0 and 68.2. PFF graded him the 52nd CB in overall defense in 2019, but his 70.5 coverage grade put him at 41st in the league.
To put that in perspective, he graded better than every CB on the Redskins roster in 2019 except Quinton Dunbar, who was ranked #2 in the league by PFF.
Amukamara is a competent veteran starting cornerback capable of playing over 800 snaps per season. He would, if he were signed by the Redskins, probably be the second-best cornerback on the team immediately, and might jump to the #1 position if Dunbar gets what has been reported to be his wish of being traded or released.
Compared to Josh Norman’s contract, Prince Amukamara is likely to be a steal. He could provide some veteran leadership and competent defensive play for a reasonable cap hit, and is likely to be willing to do so on a relatively short term contract (say, 3 years, $27m) with limited guarantees.
The Redskins have a young group of cornerbacks, but they are not especially talented or deep. A guy like Amukamara could help the team on the field and in the position room for a season or two while Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio work with Kyle Smith to re-stock the cupboard.
Of course, since he was cut by the Bears, the Redskins can negotiate with him immediately and sign him anytime; he also will not count in the compensatory draft pick calculation.
Would you like to see the Redskins sign Prince Amukamara prior to the start of Training Camp?
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