The Jags will likely be looking for one or two cornerbacks this offseason. If Derek Cox does leave the team in free agency, then the holes get very wide in the secondary. 2012 rookie Mike Harris worked his way up from the bottom of the depth chart to starter during the season and he will likely remain there with Rashean Mathis and William Middleton set to his free agency, and Aaron Ross continuing to underwhelm. Even if Cox does stay with the team, his injury history suggests that the Jags will need another player who can step up.
Enter Greg Toler.
Not included in my list of free agent cornerbacks to watch, Toler is a suggestion from commenter Vallenii, and I’m glad he brought him up. With the Jags unlikely to spend much money in free agency, the team will be looking for affordable and effective players to fill voids. His contract in 2012 with the Arizona Cardinals was for one year and $1.26 million. The Jags could likely space out money over more time if they feel that Toler can be an effective third cornerback and occasional starter.
Toler had two starts in 2012 against the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams. In those two games, he allowed 45% of passes targeted toward the receiver he was covering to be caught. This is only a few points higher than his season average of 41.5% allowed (best in the league). In comparison, Harris allowed 65.9% of passes his way to be caught, and Cox allowed 60.7% to be caught. Harris and Toler were both targeted 41 times while Cox was targeted 89 times.
Of Toler, Harris, and Cox, Toler forced quarterbacks to the lowest QB rating (51.5) on the season. Cox (69) and Harris (81.7) were not near the worst in the league, but they were considerably far behind Toler. In fact, Toler was fifth in the league in opposing team QB rating, being just ahead of Tim Jennings and just behind Lardarius Webb.
So, will the Jags want Toler? More importantly, will he be cheap?
The Jags will have an interest in Toler for two reasons.
- His size. Another commenter, Dave Nelson, had this to say about what Bradley wants in a cornerback: “Jacksonville needs to get similar corners to what Bradley worked with in Seattle. Tough, physical, tall, well-built corners.” I agree. At 5’11” 191 pounds, Toler could very well be the well-built, physical corner Bradley wants, even if he is four inches shorter than Richard Sherman
- Gus Bradley is familiar with him. Playing in the NFC West, I guarantee that Bradley is familiar with what Toler can do and how he operates. This could be a double edged sword for Toler. While I like his production, Bradley may have better insight into it and be less impressed. Then again, maybe he is a player that Bradley has coveted during his time with Seattle.
So, will he be cheap?
$1.26 isn’t exactly super cheap, but the Jags wouldn’t be paying for an unpolished player. Toler was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 draft and continues to impress each year. He is behind strong competition on an excellent Cardinals defense. I think he may want to prove something with a different team. He has injury issues, which has contributed to him only starting two games in 2012, despite being named a starter in 2010. If the Jags are willing to take a swing at another player who is talented but has the potential for injury, then Toler could be their man.
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco called Toler a value player, and it doesn’t take long to see that he’s right. The question now becomes, is he so good that Arizona desperately tries to bring him back? Or will the Jags be able to swoop in and get a decent corner for relatively no trouble?
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims