As the Green Bay Packers prepare to form their 2021 roster, it is clear that cornerback will be a position of need. To be sure, the front office will likely take a look at some in the draft. However, if Kevin King is not resigned, a starting spot will be open, and the Packers likely do not want a rookie as a starting corner. Signing free agent Xavier Rhodes could provide a good veteran starter who can fill the starting spot while the Packers develop younger talent.
Xavier Rhodes’ Career
Xavier Rhodes is an eight-year NFL veteran who is well-known to Packers’ fans. He spent the first seven seasons of his career playing for NFC North Division rival the Minnesota Vikings. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All Pro.
Rhodes played for the Indianapolis Colts last season, but was not the same corner that he was with the Vikings. Still, he recorded two interceptions and deflected 12 passes. Furthermore, he held opposing quarterbacks to a 84.5 passer rating when they targeted him.
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For comparison, quarterbacks had a 96.2 passer rating when targeting Kevin King. Even if Rhodes has lost a step, he will be a massive upgrade over King as the team’s second starting corner.
Why Rhodes Would Fit with the Packers
Xavier Rhodes is a savvy veteran who has spent years in the NFC North. He knows every offense better than anyone else the Packers might look at, in the draft or otherwise. With six games per year dedicated to division rivals, Rhodes could have a great impact on the Packers’ defense.
As mentioned previously, Rhodes is a three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro. He earned all of these achievements as a member of the Minnesota Vikings. His position coach during the years in which he was most effective was Jerry Gray.
Jerry Gray’s name should be very familiar to Packers’ fans. He is the Packers’ current secondary coach and passing game coordinator. He is also a candidate to take over for Mike Pettine as the team’s defensive coordinator. Reuniting Rhodes with Gray could help him return to his Pro Bowl form. After all, his last Pro Bowl was in 2019. That happened to be Gray’s last year with the Vikings as well.
What About the Cap?
Every team in the NFL enters 2021 with questions regarding the salary cap. The Packers are no exception and face several tough roster decisions.
Adding Xavier Rhodes in free agency would make a lot of sense for the Packers because he would not command a very hefty salary. Last season, he made $5 million on a one-year deal with the Colts. It is hard to imagine that he would make any more than that given the cap situation around the league. In fact, he may get offers for far less.
In any case, he is an affordable option for the cost-conscious Packers who could make immediate impact on the team. Additionally, he would be a massive upgrade as the team’s second starting cornerback.