Casey Hayward landing spots: Top 3 teams that should target two-time Pro Bowl CB
The Atlanta Falcons released cornerback Casey Hayward in a salary cap-saving move. The two-time Pro Bowler signed a two-year, $11 million contract to join the Falcons last season. However, he played only six games in 2022 due to a shoulder injury.
He tallied 17 total tackles, three passes defended, and an interception last year. The Falcons released Hayward after a failed physical designation. He was set to have a cap hit of $7 million in 2023. But his release will save the Falcons $5 million in cap space.
Casey Hayward was a member of the Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, and Las Vegas Raiders before joining the Falcons. He was chosen by the Packers in the second round (62nd overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, the Falcons became the second NFL team to dismiss the former Vanderbilt standout in three offseasons.
Trading for Jeff Okudah made it easier for the Falcons to part ways with the two-time Second Team All-Pro. Okudah is expected to start opposite A.J. Terrell in the Atlanta secondary. Bringing in former Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates made Hayward more expendable.
After this release, the 33-year-old defensive back still has something left in the tank. Here are three teams that could benefit the most from having Casey Hayward.
3. Casey Hayward to the Indianapolis Colts
The Colts traded Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys. The transaction left Indianapolis with Kenny Moore II and Isaiah Rodgers Sr. as the projected starting cornerbacks. While Moore is a one-time Pro Bowler, they could use an upgrade from Rodgers. The Colts currently have $22 million cap space, the fifth-most in the league.
That amount is more than enough to pay Hayward a fair deal. He could help, especially when the Colts face Odell Beckham Jr., Ja’Marr Chase, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, and Cooper Kupp this season.
2. Hayward to the Detroit Lions
Okudah's departure left a void in the Lions' defense. While C.J. Gardner-Johnson was brought in this offseason, they still need additional help, especially after allowing 245.8 passing yards per game last season. Hayward could battle with Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and Chase Lucas at cornerback.
Detroit also has $24.6 million in cap space, giving them a lot of room to pay for Casey Hayward. They could use a portion of it to get someone to help neutralize the wideouts that will line up against them. The Lions will face high-powered AFC West teams and the Dallas Cowboys in 2023.
1. Casey Hayward to the Minnesota Vikings
The departures of Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, and Chandon Sullivan during free agency decimated the Vikings’ secondary. That’s not good for a defense that finished second-worst in passing yards allowed per game last season (265.6).
They have Andrew Booth Jr. and Akayleb Evans as projected starters. Minnesota could address this concern through the 2023 NFL Draft, but they will select 23rd overall and only have five picks in total. Getting Casey Hayward can provide some stability to their pass defense. But they must clear up more cap space to pull this off because they only have $1.2 million left.