You may or may not have heard, but the New Orleans Saints have been pretty barren at cornerback this offseason. They released Janoris Jenkins to clear cap room and there’s a chance Marshon Lattimore will be suspended to start the season. That means that last year’s top two outside corners may not be on the field in black and gold to start this season.
The Saints were attached to a lot of Richard Sherman rumors this offseason, but Sherman’s recent incident in which he was charged with burglary threw a wrench in those plans (hopefully Sherman is able to work through his own issues, whether he sees the field again or not). In the wake of this, the Saints signed journeyman Prince Amukamara to try to alleviate the dire situation in coverage.
Amukamara spent time on the Cardinals and Raiders last season and played with the Giants, Jaguars, and Bears before those stints. While Amukamara’s best years were inarguably with the Giants, he did show a resurgence in his first season with the Bears that carried into his second year. He went from a brutal 63.8 coverage grade in his bust season with the Jaguars in 2016 to 71.5 with the Bears in 2017. The improvement continued with a 77.1 grade in 2018 (obligatory blurb about not taking PFF grades as gospel, but they’re a good baseline for CBs).
With Amukarama’s addition, the Saints have nine cornerbacks on the roster (including Adonis Alexander, who was signed on Wednesday). It’s shaping up to be a battle in the Saints secondary, with no one’s spot looking secure.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Patrick Robinson both do their best work in the slot, and it looks like the Saints are doing everything they can to keep them there.
Ultimately, the final word on Lattimore will answer a lot of questions for the Saints. Although the buzz around Paulson Adebo has been good, it’s unlikely he’ll be seeing early season snaps unless things start out catastrophically.
Amukamara has the talent to make an impact for the Saints, and they’re clearly hoping their scheme is able to fold him in. Whether or not that is possible remains to be seen, but the way the Saints are treating the cornerback position for the moment further solidifies just how slim free agency options on the defensive back end.