The Indianapolis Colts have recently received improved play at outside cornerback despite some earlier season struggles at the position—even if there are still some growing pains:
Gus Bradley said he's still seeing some growing pains at outside cornerback, but they're becoming less and less and that's letting the experienced pass rush feast.— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) November 28, 2023
Still more room to grow after they let Mike Evans get wide open on two touchdowns on Sunday, though.
That being said, starting rookie cornerback Julius Brents is set to miss his fifth straight week with a troublesome quad, and the Colts may be just one injury away from repeating potential disaster again in their secondary (for a league position that tends to get routinely dinged up).
Rookie late round draft pick Jaylon Jones has been a revelation at the position, and despite a really rocky start to the season, D.J. Baker’s coverage has been a lot better as of late for the Colts. However, Tony Brown, who’s a core special teamer, would theoretically be ‘the next man up’ on the depth chart during the interim period. Brown struggled mightily in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints, and the Colts may not want to relive that experience again.
There is a potential proven veteran depth option for the Colts that may be looking to join a playoff contender for the season’s final stretch run: former Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Marcus Peters.
Originally selected in first round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, when Colts general manager Chris Ballard was previously a member of their front office, the 6’0,” 197 pound cornerback has also played for the Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens, and most recently, the Las Vegas Raiders organization.
Now 30 years old, the 3x NFL All-Pro likely isn’t what he once was, but can still help a team as a veteran cornerback with a wealth of starting experience—having had 115 career starts.
Peters played 91% of the Raiders defensive snaps this season, but was recently benched in Week 12 by new head coach Antonio Pierce for presumably a lack of effort before he was released. It may have been just as much a cost-cutting maneuver, saving the Raiders $1.5M in incentives that the veteran cornerback would’ve otherwise earned.
The recent effort concerns do raise a red flag, particularly as it relates to his willingness to sacrifice his body in run support—which is a requisite for any Colts cornerback. That being said, reinvigorated by a potential AFC playoff push to close the season, would Peters be more dialed in with Indy?
Per PFF (subscription), Peters received a +68.8 overall grade—including a +71.3 coverage grade, with the Raiders during 12 starts this season. He also had 43 tackles (28 solo), an interception, and 5 passes defensed.
Peters has always shown impressive ball skills (having returned an interception for a touchdown with the Raiders) and could add some proven veteran depth to the Colts cornerback room—even if it does come up with some added ‘big personality.’