The San Diego Chargers made their first big splash in free agency. Late Wednesday night, the team addressed their porous secondary by signing free agent cornerback Derek Cox.
The Bolts and Cox agreed to a four-year deal worth $20 million with $10.25 million guaranteed. Cox, 26, will immediately slide into the Chargers’ starting lineup with both starters from a year ago, Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason, not expected to return. Now, the Chargers won’t have to rely on the inexperienced duo of Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright as their starters.
Cox was one of the top free agent cornerbacks on the market. At 6-foot-1, he is a big, physical corner who plays man and zone coverage well. He also has great ball skills, collecting 12 interceptions over his four-year career with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Last season, Cox intercepted four passes in 12 games while allowing just one touchdown. Quarterbacks had a 69.0 QB rating throwing his way, good for 11th in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2011, he was even better, allowing a QB rating of 44.5 – better than anyone else at his position – before a knee injury ended his season after just six games.
When healthy, Cox is one of the top cornerbacks in the league. However, he has missed 14 games over the past two seasons and was allowed to enter free agency due to his unreliability. The Chargers already have plenty of talented, yet injury-prone players (Ryan Mathews, Malcom Floyd, Jared Gaither) and have rolled the dice on another one.
At roughly $5 million a year, Cox will be a bargain if he remains healthy and holds down the number one cornerback spot. However, if he continues to have injury problems, the Chargers will regret handing him this kind of money.