The Packers signed free agent cornerback Chris Watson, who missed all of 2003 with an injury, the day after missing out on free agent cornerback Terrence Shaw, who signed with Carolina. Watson provides more depth at cornerback for the Packers, although its unlikely he makes the team if Mike McKenzie works out his differences with the Packers. Still, Watson's signing removes some of the pressure to overreach for a cornerback tomorrow in the draft. Watson is a tremendous value signing if he is healthy. I'm going to compare him to cornerback Jason Webster, who signed a multi-year deal with Atlanta this offseason and was given a $7 million signing bonus.
Both players are 26 years old, and will turn 27 years old by the end of the 2004. Webster missed most of 2003, playing in only 5 games, while Watson missed all of 2003. Both players passed a physical to sign with their respective new teams, so I'm assuming that both players are now healthy. In 2002, Webster started in 16 games, had 85 tackles, 1 interception, and 11 pass defenses for San Francisco, while Watson started in 8 games, had 44 tackles, 1 interception and 7 pass defenses for Buffalo. Essentially both players had identical statistics in their last healthy season, when you consider that Webster had approximately twice as many opportunities as Watson had to make plays. Watson has one clear advantage over Webster, Watson is 6'1" to Webster 5'10", which is an advantage for the Packers because Minnesota (Randy Moss, Marcus Robinson), Chicago (David Terrell, Justin Gage), and Detroit (Charles Rogers, Tai Streets) all have multiple receivers over 6'2" that expect to see a lot of playing time in 2004 against the Packers. Everything else being equal between Watson and Webster, Watson's height advantage may make him the better player for the Packers, while signing him for $7 million less than Webster. Even if statistics just can't show that Webster is the superior player to Watson, then the Packers still have a player who is comparable to Webster for a fraction of the price.