Fowler also reports that there is no malice between the two parties and that Jacksonville could hold onto Henderson, but at the same time, the team likes its cornerback room outside of Henderson. The Jaguars recognize the value they can recoup for a talented player on a team-friendly deal and wouldn’t shy away from an offer.
Jacksonville already paid about 64% of Henderson's total contract ($13.09 million of $20.51 million in total), according to PFF salary cap analyst Brad Spielberger. An acquiring team would take on a three-year, $7.43 million fully guaranteed deal for Henderson with the ability to pick up his fifth-year option for 2024 after the 2022 season.
Henderson came out of Florida last year as one of the blue-chip defensive prospects in the 2020 class. He established himself as a gifted athlete with the best man-to-man traits in his draft class after Jeff Okudah, who went third overall to the Detroit Lions.
The old Jaguars regime was a solid fit for Henderson, tasking him with playing in a system that used man coverage at a top-10 rate. Still, Henderson’s performance was up and down. He made a lot of noise in his NFL debut in Week 1 of 2020 against the Indianapolis Colts with an 84.2 PFF grade, an interception and three pass breakups. Yet, he was unable to find that kind of success again in 2020. The cornerback was limited to only seven more games due to injury, and he ended up with a 57.9 PFF grade for the season. Henderson still flashed top-tier play, especially for a young player at a position with a steep learning curve in the NFL.
The traits and high ceiling are still there for the former top-10 pick despite him producing a “poor” grade in Year 1. He should be highly sought after by a multitude of teams that utilize his skill set.
IDEAL LANDING SPOTS
Right now, the Cardinals are set to enter Week 1 with Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford as their two starting outside corners. Butler still has plenty in the tank and will hold up fine, but Alford is far from trustworthy at this point in his career. He hasn’t played a down of football since the 2018 season, a year in which he earned a 53.1 coverage grade that ranked 108th of 120 qualifying cornerbacks. That could be a detriment to an Arizona team battling against strong offenses in the NFC West.
Led by defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, the Cardinals ran man coverage at a top-three rate last season. This move makes too much sense for both parties.
The Atlanta Falcons were pegged as a possible trade-up candidate for Henderson in the 2020 NFL Draft before he eventually landed in Jacksonville. Those murmurs had former head coach Dan Quinn’s paws all over it. While he may no longer be doing his job in Mercedes Benz Stadium, Quinn is still in the NFL ranks as a defensive coordinator for an NFL team in dire need of a cornerback.
Right now, the Cowboys’ top three outside corners are 2020 second-rounder Trevon Diggs, veteran Anthony Brown and 2021 second-rounder Kelvin Joseph. Diggs did show some growth down the stretch of his rookie campaign, but Brown has struggled in his five NFL seasons. He’s coming off a career-low coverage grade (48.3) that ranked 103rd of 121 qualifying cornerbacks. As for Joseph, he was a toolsy prospect who likely needs more time to develop. Dallas is a potential contender 2021, but the team’s current cornerback situation may be too dire to overcome. Henderson, who Quinn was infatuated with just a year ago, would be a step in the right direction.
With Bryce Hall and Bless Austin as the Jets’ likely starting outside cornerbacks for 2021, this position could be an issue for first-year head coach Robert Saleh. Austin — a 2019 sixth-rounder — is perhaps the biggest concern after he earned a 47.4 coverage grade in 2020 that didn’t even crack the top 100 marks at the position.
Meanwhile, the Jets are both a rebuilding team and one with multiple first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft thanks to the Jamal Adams trade. The first-rounder they received from the Seattle Seahawks or a later pick plus a player is worth considering. Henderson would have to play more pure zone here than in Arizona or Dallas, but he would still be capable of living in this system and alleviating the issue of not having a single cornerback on the roster capable of playing man coverage when needed.