Analysis: Jumal Rolle signing

The Arizona Cardinals signed veteran cornerback Jumal Rolle on Tuesday in an effort to bolster the depth in their defensive backfield.

Player: Jumal Rolle

Height: 6-feet

Weight: 190 pounds

Age: 26

College: Catawba

Experience: Four NFL seasons

The skinny: After adding a pair of defensive backs in the NFL Draft and a slew of undrafted rookie free agents last week, the Arizona Cardinals made a surprise transaction Tuesday when the team announced it signed four-year veteran Jumal Rolle. 

Rolle entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Catawba College back in 2013, and hit his stride during the 2014 season with the Houston Texans. During his second campaign in the NFL, Rolle played in 10 games, recording three interceptions and four passes defended. 

Even though Rolle found success with Houston, he wasn't able to parlay it into more meaningful playing time in 2015, and he wound up signing with the Baltimore Ravens after being cut by the Texans midway through that season.

Since leaving Houston, Rolle has only played in one NFL game, as he appeared in a single contest for the Ravens and then suffered a season-ending Achilles injury early in training camp last season.

After sitting out the 2016 campaign, Rolle is preparing for a comeback and he's joined a Cardinals' roster that lost veteran Marcus Cooper to free agency earlier this offseason. Though Arizona appears committed to moving forward with a competition between veteran Justin Bethel and second-year defensive back Brandon Williams, neither player has demonstrated an ability to have sustained success in the NFL, which leaves the depth chart a question mark for the Cardinals heading into the summer.

The rationale: It's difficult to question the Cardinals' decision to take a flier on Rolle because he's had success in the past with Houston, he won't cost the team more than a minimum salary, and he's instantly the third most experienced cornerback on Arizona's roster.

While Rolle has only played in 19 NFL games, he's one of just four cornerbacks on the Cardinals' roster with professional experience (Harlan Miller is converting to safety). 

After losing Jerraud Powers following the 2015 offseason, Arizona learned the hard way what it was like dealing with inexperience at the cornerback position last season when Williams struggled during the first two games of the year and was subsequently yanked from the starting lineup. General manager Steve Keim's last-second trade to acquire Cooper from Kansas City proved to be a shrewd move, as Cooper wound up becoming a Pro Bowl alternate after essentially being a castoff with the Chiefs.

To expect Rolle to come in and compete in the same manner Cooper did would be asking too much, because he's not nearly as talented as Cooper. Nevertheless, Arizona should expect Rolle to make a strong push for a roster spot, especially if he can provide value on special teams.

Last season, Arizona often had as many as five cornerbacks on its roster, and with just three returning players -- Patrick Peterson, Bethel and Williams -- there's room for an unheralded player like Rolle to make the team.

What Rolle will need to do this fall is prove that he's completely recovered from his Achilles injury, and that his veteran presence can provide more value to the Cardinals' secondary. Rolle will likely be competing with the likes of sixth round draft choice Rudy Ford and coveted undrafted free agent Sojourn Shelton for a roster spot, and to make the team, he'll need to show Arizona's coaching staff he's a more technically sound man-to-man defender.

Ultimately, Rolle's chances of making the Cardinals' roster will come down to whether or not he's one of the top four-to-five man-to-man defenders on the field during training camp. If Rolle proves himself, Keim will look excellent for rolling the dice. If not, though, it's a nothing ventured, nothing gained type of a situation for the Cardinals. 


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