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Free agency preview | Cornerback

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The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.

The start of the new league year is drawing closer by the day, and the Washington Commanders have plenty of resources to turn Dan Quinn and Adam Peters' vision for the roster into a reality.

The official salary cap number for each team isn't public knowledge. There are several websites that offer projections, and many of them have different calculations. What everyone can agree on is that the Commanders have some of the most available cap space this offseason. And with the salary cap moving up to $255.4 million, that creates even more room for them to add new players.

So, in anticipation of free agency opening on March 13 at 4 p.m., is going to look at some of the top players set to become available at each position. Next up are the cornerbacks.

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Kendall Fuller

Kendall Fuller has been a constant for the Commanders since he returned to the team in 2020, and there's an argument to be made that he is not only one of the best defenders the team has had in that span, but also one of the best cornerbacks set to hit the market.

Let's look at the stats Fuller has accumulated since signing a four-year deal with Washington months after the Ron Rivera era began. He has 10 interceptions -- undoubtedly a positive for a defense that has struggled to create turnovers recently; he's had double-digit pass breakups in three seasons, the only being last year, when he had nine; and he finished fourth in tackles in 2023. Whether Quinn and Peters decide to keep him, there's no denying Fuller has been important to the unit.

Fuller's age, 29, suggests he still has some years left in him, and he can be utilized in several spots in the defensive backfield, from outside to the slot and even safety. It's up to the new front office, but it's clear that Fuller can still contribute.

New York Giants cornerback Adoree' Jackson (22) lines up during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants defeated the Eagles 27-10. (Cooper Neill via AP)

Adoree' Jackson

Consistency is not Adoree' Jackson's strong suit, but he's capable of being a top cornerback in the right circumstances.

Last year was not Jackson's best through a mix of performance and scheme. He allowed a career-high 753 yards in 2023, and opponents caught 65.9% of their passes thrown his way -- a number he hasn't given up since 2020. Pro Football Focus also gave him career lows in just about every category, from tackling to overall defensive grade and coverage.

Jackson was much more reliable in previous seasons, keeping his allowed completion rate as low as 53% and getting a combined 15 pass breakups in 2021 and 2022. Forcing turnovers is not necessarily a strength for him, although he does make for a difficult matchup when he's not operating one-on-one for the entire game. Wherever he goes in 2024 likely won't have the same blitz-happy, man-centric approach that the Giants did last year, which could give him more opportunities to thrive.

Dallas Cowboys defensive back Stephon Gilmore (21) during an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

Stephon Gilmore

If a team is looking to employ Stephon Gilmore's services, it likely won't be for long. He's the second-oldest pending free agent, and this will his fourth team in as many seasons. Though the film isn't as good as it was when he was making Pro Bowls and being named the Defensive Player of the Year, it's still enough to keep teams interested in him.

Though Gilmore can line up in other spots, he's primarily going to be found on the outside against No. 1 receivers (quick flashback to Terry McLaurin's grab over Gilmore in Indianapolis in 2022). Gilmore was as difficult of a task for his opponents as ever, allowing the fifth lowest completion rate of his career and getting 13 pass breakups -- his most since 2019. He also continued his streak of getting at least one interception for the 12th consecutive season.

Gilmore is at the point in his career when he's going to play on one-year deals. However, he still has much to offer as a starter, especially for a team like Washington that has a handful of young cornerbacks looking to have a long career. And for what it's worth, Quinn worked with Gilmore last season as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, so perhaps that relationship will be enough for a reunion.

Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) during Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots, October 29, 2018, in Orchard Park, NY. (AP Photo/Chris Cecere)

Tre'Davious White

Tre'Davious White was a cap casualty as the Bills continue to clear space on their roster ahead of the new league year. It's been a tough couple of years for White, as he's torn his ACL in 2021 and Achilles in 2023. Despite those injury issues, there are sure to be several teams looking at the possibility of adding White to their roster.

When White was healthy, he was one of the best players at his position. His first four seasons were full of individual success, deflecting 54 passes and 15 interceptions. He led the league with six picks in 2019, which earned him First Team All-Pro consideration.

And if you need any more convincing about White's skills, consider that McLaurin has heaped praise on him over the years.

"He can play press-man, his press-man technique is very patient," McLaurin said in 2021. "He does a really good job of cutting off the receivers when they get into the stems of their routes. He's strong when he's in press coverage with his game. He can run with pretty much any receiver out there, which makes it really tough. So when he's playing off, he does a really good job of reading the receiver's body language."

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) is introduced before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Kenny Moore

Moore has not made his money on the outside over the last seven seasons. He's spent most of his time in the slot -- a combined 3,500 snaps over the course of his career. And he's developed a knack for it, too.

The 2023 season was the best of Moore's career, according to PFF, earning a defensive grade of 77.4 and a cover grade of 79.3. He grabbed three interceptions last season, returning two for touchdowns, and recorded 93 tackles. And for context, Moore's 77.4 defensive grade was higher than almost every Washington cornerback except Fuller.

Finding a consistent slot option in the defensive backfield has been a challenge for Washington over the years. Benjamin St-Juste started there in 2022 before moving back to the outside. Quan Martin played there some in 2023, but it's unclear where he'll be this upcoming season. It might be beneficial for Washington to find a cornerback who specializes in the position.

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