Malcolm Butler went from being an undrafted free agent out of West Alabama, to an unknown guy who made a huge play in a Super Bowl, to one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. His transformation has been amazing, and he's only 27 in March. He deserves a huge contract.
A.J. Bouye, CB, Texans. Age: 26. Signed with Jaguars
A.J. Bouye came out of nowhere to have a Pro Bowl season for the Texans. Bouye was just a reserve/special-teamer prior to 2016, but he inexplicably turned into a shutdown cornerback. I'm hesitant to give him anything more than four stars because he could be a one-year wonder, but Bouye is set to earn a big contract this offseason.
Trumaine Johnson, CB, Rams. Age: 27. Franchised by Rams
Trumaine Johnson is an excellent cornerback who has about four more years remaining in his prime, given that he just turned 27. Johnson struggles to tackle, but he's phenomenal as a cover cornerback.
Logan Ryan, CB, Patriots. Age: 26. Signed with Titans (3 years, $30 million)
Logan Ryan struggled to start the 2016 campaign, but bounced back and performed on a very high level once again down the stretch. Ryan has been great the past two years, and he's only 26 in February, so he should be able to play well for quite a while.
Stephon Gilmore, CB, Bills. Age: 26. Signed with Patriots
Stephon Gilmore had been an excellent cornerback heading into 2016, but he struggled last year. It's unclear why he regressed, but it's likely that he'll rebound. He's only 26, so it's not like he has a declining skill set, or anything.
Prince Amukamara, CB, Jaguars. Age: 28. Signed with Bears
Prince Amukamara signed a 1-year "prove it" deal with the Jaguars last offseason. Prove himself he did, as Amukamara missed just a couple of games. He performed on a high level in 2016 and is certainly worthy of a substantial contract.
Morris Claiborne, CB, Cowboys. Age: 27. Signed with Jets
It's almost crazy to recall that Morris Claiborne was considered a colossal bust prior to this past season. Claiborne had done nothing but suck since being chosen sixth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he performed like a shutdown corner this past season before getting hurt. Was that because he was in his contract year, though? Will he stink again if he signs a big deal? Teams thinking about giving Claiborne a ton of money need to be concerned about this.
Jalen Collins, CB, Falcons. Age: 24.
I don't understand this. Jalen Collins played at an unbelievably high level during the Falcons' run to the Super Bowl last year. Collins was suspended for 10 games for PEDs, but he was set to return this week from his ban. Instead, the Falcons inexplicably waived him. Something must be going on behind the scenes. Perhaps Collins is way out of shape, or something. I suppose we'll find out. But from an outsider looking in, Collins seems like he could be a tremendous waiver claim for some team.
Deshawn Shead (RFA), CB, Seahawks. Age: 29. Re-signed with Seahawks
The Seahawks needed a No. 2 cornerback after losing Byron Maxwell, and Deshawn Shead stepped up. Shead was terrific in 2016. However, it's unknown how the 6-foot-2 Shead would fare outside of Seattle's system.
Ross Cockrell (RFA), CB, Steelers. Age: 26. Tendered by Steelers (original)
The Bills selected Ross Cockrell in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. They cut him, and the Steelers were able to greatly benefit, as Cockrell has been a very solid starter for them over the past couple of seasons. He turns only 26 in August, so he could continue to improve his game.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Bengals. Age: 27. Re-signed with Bengals (5 years, $52.5 million)
Dre Kirkpatrick has been a disappointment for most of his career, but he finally performed on a high level in 2016. Kirkpatrick certainly has the talent to keep playing well, and he's only 27.
Captain Munnerlyn, CB, Vikings. Age: 29. Signed with Panthers
Captain Munnerlyn has been a quality slot cornerback for quite some time now. Munnerlyn actually had a bit of a down year in 2016, but he's only 29, so he could bounce back next season and play well into 2019.
Vontae Davis, CB, Colts. Age: 29.
Vontae Davis was released because of injury concerns, but if he's healthy, he's a very skilled cornerback. Davis, however, has been very injury-prone the past few seasons.
Tramaine Brock, CB, 49ers. Age: 29. Signed with Seahawks
Tramaine Brock has had an up-and-down career. The 2016 campaign was a high, as he played extremely well. Unfortunately, he reached a low earlier in the offseason. Brock was arrested for domestic violence, as his girlfriend reportedly had "visible injuries." However, Brock was cleared of all charges, so it would make sense for him to join a new team. Some organizations that make sense for him are the Eagles, Cardinals, Seahawks, Bengals and Raiders.
Joe Haden, CB, Browns. Age: 28. Signed with Steelers (3 years, $27 million)
The Browns were attempting to aggressively trade Joe Haden, but that didn't quite pan out because of the money he was owed ($33 million over three years). Now that teams won't have to dedicate a good chunk of their cap to Haden, there will be interest in signing him. Haden's production has dropped off considerably over the past couple of seasons because of injuries. Still, Haden is only 28 and could rebound. Four primary teams that make sense for Haden are the Chiefs, Steelers, Packers and Raiders, as they are Super Bowl contenders with major issues at corner. I'd include the Eagles in that category as well, but they just traded for Ronald Darby. Two other teams that make sense are the Colts and Rams.
Jason McCourty, CB, Titans. Age: 30. Signed with Browns
Jason McCourty was once an excellent cornerback for the Titans, as they got the most out of their sixth-round pick from the 2009 NFL Draft. However, McCourty struggled through a groin injury in 2015 and never fully recovered last season. He didn't perform poorly this past year, but he wasn't back to pre-2015 form either. It's possible, however, that McCourty could rebound. He may have a couple of decent seasons remaining in the tank, as he's 29 until the middle of August.
Brandon Flowers, CB, Chargers. Age: 31. Announced retirement
Brandon Flowers was released because of his $9 million salary, but he can still play very well when healthy. His durability is a big concern, however. He played just six games in 2016 and has a history of concussions. Still, he could provide great value on a 1-year "prove it" deal.
Byron Maxwell, CB, Dolphins. Age: 29. Signed with Seahawks
Byron Maxwell has been so incredibly inconsistent. He thrived with the Seahawks, struggled with the Eagles, performed well for the Dolphins in 2016, and then played atrociously this season before getting benched and cut. He's still just 29, so he could rebound in a new home, however.
Sam Shields, CB, Packers. Age: 29.
Sam Shields is difficult to rate. He was considered the Packers' top cornerback heading into 2016, and while that's not saying much, he's worth a four-star rating at least under normal circumstances. Shields, however, missed all but one game last year with a concussion. As of this writing (Feb. 8), he still hasn't been cleared. Shields may never play again, and even if he's cleared, another concussion could knock him out of the league forever. However, his upside makes him worth signing to a 1-year "prove it" deal.
Darius Butler, CB, Colts. Age: 31. Re-signed with Colts (1 year)
With Vontae Davis banged up, Darius Butler was Indianapolis' top cornerback in 2016. Butler has been pretty inconsistent over his career, so he could regress next year. The fact that he turns 31 in March also needs to be considered.
Leon Hall, CB/S, Giants. Age: 32. Signed with 49ers
There's so much cornerbackng talent on the Giants that Leon Hall didn't get to play very much at the position. Hall should still be a decent corner, though he'll turn 33 in December. He can also play safety.
Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets. Age: 32. Signed with Chiefs
Darrelle Revis signed a big contract two years ago. He struggled a bit in 2015 and then regressed into one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL. Revis played like a one-star free agent in 2016, but he's just 32 (in July) and could rebound. He was once the best cornerback in the NFL, so I find it hard to believe that he's completely done. Perhaps Revis can move to safety.
Brandon Carr, CB, Cowboys. Age: 31. Signed with Ravens
Brandon Carr was once a very skilled cornerback, but his play has declined the past couple of seasons. He had a bit of a bounce-back year in 2016, but he turns 31 in May, so his best days are obviously behind him.
Patrick Robinson, CB, Colts. Age: 29. Signed with Eagles (1 year)
Patrick Robinson has gone through a roller-coaster career thus far. He was a first-round pick in 2010 and played well at times, but he also struggled enough to get benched in New Orleans. Robinson performed well for the Chargers in 2015, but struggled in Indianapolis last season because of multiple injuries.
Terence Newman, CB, Vikings. Age: 38. Re-signed with Vikings
Terence Newman has been a great cornerback for a very long time, which is why it was surprising when he staged a mutiny against Mike Zimmer in Week 16. Newman turns 39 in September, and has told the media that he has contemplated retirement.
Brice McCain, CB, Titans. Age: 30.
Brice McCain struggled in Miami prior to this past season, but he performed well for the Titans. McCain will be 31 at some point during the season, however, and I don't trust him to keep up his high level of play.
Nolan Carroll, CB, Cowboys. Age: 30.
Nolan Carroll was Philadelphia's best cornerback in 2015, but he regressed markedly this past season. Carroll's true ability is probably somewhere in between those two outputs, so with a bounce-back season, perhaps he can be an average No. 2 corner.
Darryl Morris, CB, Colts. Age: 26.
Darryl Morris used to just be a backup and special-teams player, but he has shown some improvement and was actually a solid contributor down the stretch in 2016. Just 26, Morris could continue to improve.
K'Waun Williams, CB, Browns. Age: 26. Signed with 49ers
K'Waun Williams was a solid nickel corner for the Browns in 2014 and 2015, but missed the entire 2016 campaign because of an ankle injury. He appears to be healthy now.
Alterraun Verner, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 28. Signed with Dolphins
Alterraun Verner signed a $25.5 million contract three years ago, but has struggled mightily the past two seasons. He's talented enough to rebound, but it's difficult to ignore how bad he's been for the Buccaneers.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Steelers. Age: 25.
Justin Gilbert has been absolutely terrible in the NFL thus far, but I'm rating him above the 1.5-star players because he was the eighth-overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, so he obviously has some great potential. Gilbert, however, has put zero effort into his career thus far. Perhaps being waived by the Steelers will serve as a wake-up call for him to turn his career around before he's out of the league for good.
D.J. Hayden, CB, Raiders. Age: 27. Signed with Lions (1 year)
D.J. Hayden has been a major bust thus far, but he was the 12th-overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, so he obviously has at least some potential.
Nickell Robey-Coleman, CB, Bills. Age: 25. Signed with Rams
Nickel Robey-Coleman was great as a rookie in 2013, but regressed every year afterward and was ultimately benched in 2016. Perhaps he can return back to form, but he hasn't played well in a while.
Shareece Wright, CB, Ravens. Age: 30. Signed with Bills
Shareece Wright has missed nine games in the past two seasons and was just average (or maybe slightly worse) when on the field. Wright turns 30 in April, so his best days are behind him.
Tracy Porter, CB, Bears. Age: 31.
Tracy Porter has played well in the past - especially on the NFL's biggest stage - but has declined recently. He had some bright moments last year for Chicago, but struggled mightily at times as well.
Davon House, CB, Jaguars. Age: 28. -- Signed with Packers
Jerraud Powers, CB, Ravens. Age: 30. -- Announced retirement
Antwon Blake, CB, Titans. Age: 27. -- Signed with Giants
Tramon Williams, CB/S, Browns. Age: 34. -- Signed with Cardinals
Leodis McKelvin, CB, Eagles. Age: 32.
Trevin Wade, CB, Giants. Age: 28.
B.W. Webb, CB, Saints. Age: 27. -- Signed with Bears
Kyle Wilson, CB, Saints. Age: 29.
Johnthan Banks, CB, Bears. Age: 27. -- Signed with Texans
Marcus Cooper, CB, Cardinals. Age: 27. -- Signed with Bears
Marcus Burley (RFA), CB, Browns. Age: 27. -- Signed with Texans
Corey White, CB/S, Bills. Age: 27. -- Signed with Colts
Kayvon Webster, CB, Broncos. Age: 26. -- Signed with Rams
Keenan Lewis, CB, Saints. Age: 31.
Greg Toler, CB, Redskins. Age: 32.
Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Giants. Age: 28. -- Signed with Steelers
Demontre Hurst (RFA), CB, Bears. Age: 26. -- Signed with Titans
Troy Hill, CB, Rams. Age: 26.
Teddy Williams, CB, Panthers. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Panthers
Ron Brooks, CB, Eagles. Age: 28.
Dwayne Gratz, CB, Eagles. Age: 27.
Leon McFadden, CB, Cowboys. Age: 26.
Chris Lewis-Harris (RFA), CB, Ravens. Age: 28.
Steve Williams, CB, Rams. Age: 26.
Josh Robinson, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 26. -- Re-signed with Buccaneers (2 years, $6.5 million)