A top priority for Denver Broncos GM George Paton will have to be the secondary. Specifically, at the cornerback position. Paton takes over a team that believed the position had been settled in 2020 with the return of Bryce Callahan from injury, and the trade for AJ Bouye. Even with Michael Ojemudia potentially making a leap in his second season in Denver, prudence suggests Paton kick the tires on some free agent corners. While there are flashier free agents out there, a potential depth signing with upside could be Bashaud Breeland.
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 195 pounds
Experience: 7 NFL Seasons
Breeland began his career as a 4th round draft pick by the Washington Football team in 2014. In his career he has started 88 of the 94 games he has played in. He has 14 career INTs and 81 PDs, along with 376 total tackles. He spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons in Kansas City. With the Chiefs he had 4 INTs, 17 PDs, and 86 total tackles. During his time with the Chiefs, he has been a reliable corner, but not the type of lockdown defender that can eliminate a wide receiver from a team’s game plan.
Why it makes sense
In the search for players that can add depth and experience to the secondary, Breeland brings both. He wouldn’t become an instant starter, but he would provide a veteran presence in the secondary rotation. A health Bryce Callahan means the rest of the secondary can work on a rotation that favors the hot hand, kind of like RB by committee.
As the 92nd best free agent this offseason according to PFF , Breeland won’t bring a hefty price tag. With a season grade from PFF of 62.8, he isn’t an instant game changer, but that wouldn’t be why you bring in a player like him. He fits into a rotation that includes young, raw talent. Another veteran presence would benefit the whole unit. Also, in Vic Fangio’s defense, Breeland wouldn’t be asked to be a lockdown corner. The zone scheme would benefit a player who has struggled in coverage at times.
Why it doesn’t make sense
Frankly, the Broncos need to focus on the secondary because of their youth, and the loss of talent at the position. However, Breeland isn’t a game changer. He isn’t going to come in and be an impact player that can play opposite Bryce Callahan. And while some of that makes him somewhat desirable, it also acts as a negative when looking at his game.
His season grade from PFF of 62.8 put him middle of the pack for corners.
The veteran cornerback had three games with a PFF coverage grade above 80.0 this past season, but he also one of 32.2 and another of 43.1 as well as two games in the 50s. Overall, he was beaten for a passer rating of 90.3 and earned a solid coverage grade, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Breeland will be 29 by the time free agency hits, and though he can certainly play and start in this league, he represents the kind of starter that teams will always have an eye out to upgrade upon.
This kind of inconsistency is hard to accept from a veteran cornerback. His price tag won’t be astronomical, but if the expectation is a roller coaster, it seems to be better to give those rides to young players who could develop into something better. Ojemudia, Essang Bassey, and potentially a couple rookies would be better served getting reps over a 7th year player with a tendency to get beat.
In all likelihood, Breeland will end up back with the Chiefs. That’s fine. Weighing the options, there are better ways for the Broncos to use their cap space. Yes, the secondary is an area of concern. Yes, a veteran thrown into the mix could be valuable if the Broncos were a playoff contender. They aren’t. At this point, the players on the roster will need to continue to develop. Giving opportunities to a player who’s play has proven to be inconsistent makes little sense for Denver right now.
The argument could be made that Fangio’s scheme can mask poor CB play, but that’s not a reason to spend the money on a player that can’t have an immediate impact. In fact, it’s exactly the reason you hold off a little and let the young players develop in the system.
Should the Broncos target Bashaud Breeland in free agency?
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