According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Indianapolis Colts are signing former Minnesota Vikings’ All-Pro veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, we now know that Rhodes’ new deal is worth around $5 million—which is less than the $6.85 million that recently released Colts cornerback Pierre Desir was set to make in 2020:
Originally the 25th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft (just one pick after the Colts selected former pass rusher Bjoern Werner), the 6’1”, 218 pound Rhodes has made 97 career starts—all for the Vikings defense over the past 7 seasons.
He became one of the league’s best cornerbacks in Minnesota—having earned All-Pro honors in 2017 and as a 3x Pro Bowler in his career.
That being said, the 8-year veteran is coming off a dreadful 2019 season for the Vikings defense. Pro Football Focus ranked him as their 186th rated cornerback (out of 200 qualifiers) with a +46.4 grade overall in 2019—but really, it’s been a 2-year slide for Rhodes:
Xavier Rhodes PFF ranks among CBs:— PFF IND Colts (@PFF_Colts) March 26, 2020
2016; 20th of 120
2017; t-37th of 120
2018; 104th of 121
2019; 116th of 123 https://t.co/0akixAI4zk
The former shutdown cornerback simply hasn’t looked like his old self as of late, but still managed 63 tackles, 6 passes defensed, and a forced fumble in 15 starts this past season.
After cutting Desir, the remaining top free agent veteran cornerback options for the Colts weren’t admittedly great—and all had some major question marks.
However, Rhodes has the draft pedigree and the most career success of any available cornerback currently out there.
He’s the type of long-armed, athletic cornerback that general manager Chris Ballard typically covets—and he’s a willing tackler on the outside against the run.
While he’s traditionally been more of a press-man corner with the Vikings, perhaps a transition to more of a zone scheme with the Colts could help the veteran extend his playing career and re-discover his old success.
The hope is that Rhodes, with a much needed change of scenery and reunited with his former coaches with the Vikings, now Colts defensive backs’ coaches Johnathan Gannon and Alan Williams can regain his prior form—when he was such a special player for Minnesota’s secondary.
It’s a low risk, high reward opportunity for the Colts.
After Desir’s departure, the team desperately needed a veteran cornerback, as slot corner Kenny Moore (24) was the group’s elder statesman—and the defense was previously projected to start two second-year cornerbacks, Rock Ya-Sin and Marvell Tell (with 14 career starts between them) on the outside—before signing Rhodes.
If Rhodes can rebound this season, it could be a huge signing for the Colts secondary—with his shutdown coverage and overall experience.
In fact, one member of the Colts’ cornerback group has already chimed in:
Rhodes Closed.— Kenny Moore II (@KennyKennyMoe3) March 26, 2020
Still only 29 years old, Rhodes still has the youth to help find his old form.
If not, the Colts can easily cut their losses and move on after only one year.
Either way, without Desir, the Colts came away with a veteran cornerback they had to have this offseason—who also happens to have potential All-Pro upside.