Cardinals Sign Round 2 CB Max Melton

The current CBA has largely removed holdout-driven drama from the NFL offseason, but the wiggle room regarding second-round picks does add some intrigue to the rookie signing process. The Cardinals’ Tuesday signing will help influence this year’s guarantee structures.

Arizona agreed to terms with its second-round pick — Rutgers cornerback Max Melton — Tuesday, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson, who adds the deal includes three fully guaranteed years and part of the DB’s 2027 salary being locked in at signing. The Cardinals are guaranteeing $50K of the No. 43 overall pick’s 2027 salary.

This follows the Rams’ Braden Fiske deal, which Wilson reported guarantees 15% of the Florida State defensive lineman’s 2027 base salary. Fiske went No. 39. The Rams and Cardinals’ deals show more progress being made by second-rounders. Last year’s class did not see its No. 39 overall pick (Jonathan Mingo) secure any Year 4 guarantees. The Cards giving Melton three fully guaranteed years and some 2027 guarantees will mandate this year’s Nos. 40-42 picks (cornerbacks Cooper DeJean, Kool-Aid McKinstry and Kamari Lassiter) receive some contract-year security.

Last year’s guarantee arc did not require the Jets to guarantee all of No. 43 overall pick Joe Tippmann‘s Year 3 salary, and No. 42 overall choice Luke Musgrave also did not receive three full years guaranteed. The Cardinals’ Melton agreement will continue to move the baseline for second-round guarantees, and the former Big Ten corner will get to work in attempting to carve out a significant role as a rookie in Arizona.

Checking in 50th on Daniel Jeremiah’s big board, Melton is viewed as a player who could be a fit outside or in the slot. He intercepted eight passes over the past three seasons at Rutgers, returning one for a score. Melton also notched 10 passes defensed as a junior in 2022. The 5-foot-11 cover man added to his draft profile by running a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the Combine.

Arizona has been in need at corner for years, with Byron Murphy‘s 2023 exit for Minnesota amplifying the issue. The team’s group at the position will look different in 2024, as three CBs — Melton, third-rounder Elijah Jones and seventh-rounder Jaden Davis — join free agency addition Sean Murphy-Bunting as new faces here. The Cardinals did improve in pass defense last season, ranking 13th in Jonathan Gannon‘s debut; they will aim to make more gains with their new pieces this year.

The Cardinals also agreed to terms with third-rounder Isaiah Adams, a guard out of Illinois. Adams was part of a four-third-rounder haul for Arizona this year.

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