The New England Patriots have already spent handsomely in free agency this offseason, but USA Today’s Henry McKenna says the team could make another “splash,” specifically at cornerback.
Pinging off a tweet from Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Bezan, aka Pats Cap, McKenna tweeted:
FWIW: The Patriots could absolutely make another splash in free agency. And there’s still talent out there, particularly at the cornerback position. Not saying they WILL. But the money is there.
The team had former Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in for a visit on Thursday, but that might not represent the kind of “splash” McKenna was referring to with his tweet.
There are at least two serious names to consider. Both might open a few more eyes than Kirkpatrick.
If the Patriots make another “splash” at CB, Sherman makes sense. The future Hall-of-Fame cornerback is still without a team.
The five-time Pro-Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion has been in the NFL since he was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. Sherman quickly established himself as one of the best in the NFL at his position and helped the Seahawks to their lone Super Bowl championship.
Sherman spent the first seven years of his career with the Seahawks before signing a three-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers in 2018. There have been whispers about Sherman landing with the Patriots for years. With New England looking to shore up the position and Sherman likely available at the lowest salary since he was a rookie, the stars might have aligned.
Sherman turned 33 at the end of March, so he isn’t still in his prime. He’s also coming off a 2020 season that saw him only appear in five games. However, Sherman has been extraordinarily durable throughout his career. He didn’t miss a game during his first six seasons. Since then, he has missed 18 in the last four years.
Even if his durability and performance are a tad under what it was in his prime, at 6’3″ 200 pounds and with ten years in the NFL, Sherman could still offer the Patriots some much-needed size, experience, and leadership in the secondary.
Casey Hayward Jr.
If the Patriots are looking for an equally experienced and almost as decorated option, the 31-year-old Casey Hayward Jr. is still available. The former Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers star just completed his ninth year in the NFL.
Hayward spent the last five seasons with the Chargers organization after being drafted in the second round out of Vanderbilt by the Packers in 2012. Hayward is a couple of years younger than Sherman, but he has made two Pro-Bowls during his career.
He also has a longer string on un-injured seasons. While he did miss two games in 2020 due to a hamstring injury, those two contests were the first he had missed since 2013 when he only appeared in three games for the Packers.
At 5’11” 192 pounds, Hayward doesn’t offer the same size that Sherman provides, but he has made it work in his NFL career, including a league-leading seven interceptions for the Chargers in 2016.
If the Patriots don’t sign Kirkpatrick, keep an eye out for Sherman or Hayward.