It looks like the Broncos are playing a game of “if then” in the secondary. Taking a glance at the players under contract right now leaves Bryce Callahan, Isaac Yiadom, and Duke Dawson at corner and nickel. Even if you assume DaVante Bausby and Davontae Harris come back, there’s two players who landed on Injured Reserve and three players who got benched in 2019.
If Elway is selling this team as a playoff contender, they’d be wise to add a proven cornerback or two. Prince Amukamara is about as prove as they come, and there’s little need for projecting how he fits. He’s already played at a very high level for Vic Fangio when both were in Chicago.
I've seen some concern about Amukamara's age, but he looks pretty spry covering Courtland Sutton. pic.twitter.com/8r1LZ7kZHt— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) February 23, 2020
What kind of contract could he get
That’s really the big question with Prince Amukamara. On the one hand, Chris Harris Jr. is looking to make more than $12 million in this free agent market and there’s been reports that guys like James Bradberry will chase more than $15 million. On the other, the Chicago Bears cut him in order to create $8 million in cap space and he’s going to turn 31 in June.
Why the Broncos should sign him
If the Broncos are looking for some Byron Jones-esque skills in press and trail without spending top dollars on a cornerback, he makes a ton of sense.
Amukamara’s still a physical presence who makes it hard for receivers to get clean off the line and will stay in their hip pocket in route. According to PFF, Amukamara allowed a reception once every 14.5 coverage snaps in 2019, which ranked seventh among cornerbacks with more than 500 coverage snaps. Some may complain about his lack of interceptions, but like Byron Jones he just wasn’t thrown at very often because he smothered his assignments.
Why the Broncos shouldn’t sign him
There’s definitely a couple reasons for concern with Amukamara. Watching his tape he definitely is closer to adequate than solid coming up out of off coverage and he’s going to have some matchup issues with speed receivers if he can’t get them at the line. He’s also a boundary only corner, which isn’t a huge issue but can’t be ignored. Lastly, at 31, there’s reason to believe that he could face a precipitous decline rather soon so the length of the contract and flexibility would be pretty important.
If the Broncos miss out on Byron Jones and say James Bradberry, Prince Amukamara has to be in the conversation. Signing him does not solve all of the concerns about the secondary but buys the coaching staff time to develop players without pushing them into roles before they’re ready. On top of that, Amukamara knows the defense and Fangio can rely on him on the backside of 3X1 formations, which is something Kansas City loves to attack teams with. I would hope Elway protects the team against his decline, but something like a 2-year deal with most of the guarantees in 2020 would be great.
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