The LA Chargers followed a massive move of trading for Khalil Mack by making an even bigger move in free agency. Top corner J.C. Jackson is reportedly in agreement with the LA Chargers on a five-year, $82.5 million contract.
After it was announced that the Chargers traded for Mack we had to break out our thinking caps and rank the top-five edge-rushing duos in the NFL (of course Mack and Joey Bosa made the list). With Derwin James in LA, we now have to do the same with the best cornerback-safety duos in the league.
In order to make this list, a player has to still be under contract with their respective team. For that reason, one of the best duos from last season (Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore in New Orleans) did not make the list.
Ranking the top-5 cornerback-safety duos in the NFL after Chargers sign J.C. Jackson:
5. Chidobe Awuzie and Jessie Bates, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals signed Chidobe Awuzie prior to the 2021 season and he ended up being a very important member of the defense during the Bengals' Super Bowl run. Awuzie was so good in fact that he earned Second-Team All-Pro honors from Pro Football Focus.
Awuzie is not in the conversation for being one of the best cornerbacks in the game but he is a young, ascending corner who was absolutely above-average last season. Behind him is someone who is even better in Jessie Bates, who is one of the best and most overlooked young safeties in the league.
Bates took a small step back in 2021 but he was still solid and was a Second-Team All-Pro in 2020.
Neither Bates or Awuzie are going to completely put a secondary on their backs like other players on this list can, but together, they represent a well-rounded duo that is well above-average in both areas. In my book, that is better than having an elite cornerback with an awful safety, or vice versa. There is a big gap to the rest of this list, though.