Dolphins reportedly make Bobby McCain NFL's highest-paid nickel corner
As offenses continue to use three-receiver sets, the need for nickel corners has increased
The Miami Dolphins are rewarding cornerback Bobby McCain after he set multiple career highs in 2017. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Dolphins made McCain the highest-paid nickel cornerback in football on Friday by giving him a four-year, $27 million extension with $13 million guaranteed.
That seems like a lot of money for the Dolphins to commit to a nickel cornerback. Over the past year, guys like Richard Sherman, Prince Amukamara, and Joe Haden have signed contracts worth roughly $27 million, per Spotrac.
But as NFL offenses increasingly operate out of three-receiver sets, the need for nickel cornerbacks has increased dramatically. According to Pro Football Focus, offenses used 11 personnel (one back, one tight end, three receivers) 58 percent of the time during the 2017 season. So, more often than not, defenses are forced to use three cornerbacks to defend three receivers.
That's probably why the Dolphins felt the need to pay McCain. A fifth-round pick in 2015, McCain has played in all 48 games during his career, registering three interceptions, 17 passes defended, two sacks, and 84 tackles. This past season, he set career highs in interceptions, passes defended, and tackles. According to PFF, he graded out as the 46th-best cornerback in football while allowing a 78.4 passer rating in coverage, which tied for the 40th-lowest passer rating out of 124 qualified cornerbacks.
Interestingly enough, it was Bryce Callahan of the Bears who was tied with McCain. Callahan is regarded as one of the better slot corners in football, and his agent will surely take note of McCain's extension. Callahan is scheduled to become a free agent after the coming season.
For McCain, he's getting a substantial raise after earning only $1,803,288 through the first three years of career, according to Spotrac. For the Dolphins, it's a significant financial commitment when they've got several other holes they need to plug if they're hoping to contend in the near future. Then again, maybe with McCain and rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick under team control for the next several seasons, the Dolphins will finally have a secondary that can slow down Tom Brady and company.
Last year, the Dolphins ranked 28th in defensive DVOA while allowing the fourth-most points per game en route to a six-win season.
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