Would You Rather: Sign Chris Harris Jr. or Byron Jones in NFL Free Agency
The NFL league year hasn't even officially opened (that will come on March 18) and we've already seen a flurry of trades and free agent news filling the void being left by the cancellation of other sports.
While this year's heavy-handed use of the franchise tag has made the free agent class thinner than it looked like it was going to be, there are still some great options available.
Two of the best on the market at the cornerback position are former Denver Bronco Chris Harris Jr. and former Dallas Cowboy Byron Jones. Which one should teams be going after more aggressively?
The older of the two, Harris will be turning 31 this summer. That's not old enough to bank on a serious decline, but it is worth noting that his long-term outlook may not be as rosy as the 27-year-old Jones'. For a team in a long-term rebuild, that dings Harris' value.
For other teams, however, the difference in what salary the two will demand (Jones is expected to see a huge pay-day) helps balance out the age factor.
Once considered one of the NFL's premier slot corners, Harris is coming off a down year in 2019. After limiting opponents to just 497 yards on the 71 targets that were thrown at players he was covering in 2018, he gave up 731 yards on 73 targets in 2019 — a jump from 7.0 to 10.0 yards per target. Interestingly, he allowed only three more completions, however, but the average depth of target (aDOT) thrown against him jumped from 7.8 yards to 11.8 yards.
This suggests the production he gave up may have been scheme-related. That is to say, having an elite slot corner covering deep routes may not be the best use of Harris' skills.
Jones, on the other hand, just turned in one of his best seasons. After allowing 7.3 yards per target in 2018, that number fell to a stellar 6.2 on 64 targets in 2019. Pro Football Focus gave him an excellent 74.8 coverage grade, beating out Harris' 66.8.
The better of the two to target looks like it's going to depend on team need and the way the roster is currently constructed, as the two bring different things to the table despite playing the same position.
Jones offers more long-term value and a higher ceiling, as he looks capable of being one of the best all-around corners in the game. Harris won't cost as much, though, and if a defensive coordinator can play to his strong suits and keep him in the slot, he could be an integral piece in shoring up a secondary.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.