Each spring it seems like every team in the NFL is constantly looking to upgrade at cornerback. A better slot guy, a tried and true shutdown corner or maybe just a specialist to play the matchups -- beefing up the secondary is an ongoing quest. It also makes it very lucrative to be a free agent cornerback.
Luckily for those teams in need, there may be a few cornerbacks on the free agent market this offseason that could help out.
Rodgers-Cromartie was a hot commodity after his first three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Then he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles and he just hasn't been the same. In his first three seasons, he had 13 interceptions and four touchdowns. In two years with Philly, he has just three interceptions and no touchdowns. The positive for Rodgers-Cromartie is that 2012 was a better year for him. He played in all 16 games, recording three interceptions and 43 tackles.
Talib has been seen as a player who has a lot of talent but can't put all the pieces together. Or, better yet, can't get out of his own way. In the midst of a four-game suspension for testing positive for Adderall this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded Talib to the New England Patriots. Now, his stock has gotten a nice boost. The Patriots' secondary improved greatly with Talib, and now the five-year veteran is leading the secondary into the divisional round of the playoffs. The Patriots will likely try to re-sign Talib, but coach Bill Belichick isn't afraid to cut ties if the price gets too steep.
Jammer has never been named to a Pro Bowl, but he is a model of consistency. The 11-year veteran has appeared in at least 14 games in every season for the San Diego Chargers. Only three times in that span did not he play in all 16 games. Jammer might not be a flashy acquisition for a team this offseason, and he might be 34 when next season starts, but he's proven over his career that he is solid and consistent -- something most teams don't get from their current crop of corners.
Cox would be somewhat of a gamble for any team this offseason. The fourth-year man out of William & Mary has missed a lot of time over the past three years (he started 16 games as a rookie), but he's a pure ball hawk. In 47 games he has 12 interceptions. If he can stay healthy, whoever signs him will be happy they did.
Grimes is the dark horse of the cornerbacks on the free agent market. Grimes played just one game this season before he was put on the injured reserve with an Achilles injury. Teams would like to know he is healthy before they try to sign him, but if he is, he could be a starter for most teams. In 16 games in 2010, Grimes earned a Pro Bowl nod by picking off five passes and recording 70 tackles. He has the big-play ability teams are looking for in a corner.
Houston has missed a game here or there over his career, but he's been a consistent cornerback for Detroit the last three seasons and for Atlanta the three seasons before that. The second-round pick in 2007 has 11 interceptions over the last five years. His best season was 2011, when he intercepted five passes and two of them went back for touchdowns. He had 225 interception return yards, which was the best in the NFL.
A third-round pick in 2009, Fletcher once had a promising future with the St. Louis Rams. His physical style of play and knack for man coverage earned him a starting job as a rookie, but his season ended early that year when he tore both his knee ligaments. Unfortunately, torn ligaments have been a theme for Fletcher's career, who tore his ACL a second time in 2011.
If you subscribe the notion that life begins at 34, then Sheldon Brown is the corner for you. Age isn't something to be so optimistic about in the NFL. Cleveland's done with him, but some team might be able to round out their depth chart with Brown in 2013.
The Dolphins cornerback is reportedly looking for a deal similar to the one that Cortland Finnegan signed last year, one that would net him $8 million to $10 million per season. He is just 25 years old, but does have a few holes in his game. Smith is a starting corner, but not a shutdown guy.
Where the cornerback market could get really interesting is the news that the Jets could trade Darrelle Revis. The bidding for the league's top corner could get especially competitive, and the cost in draft picks, not to mention the contract extension he would net, could make it an expensive affair.
The full list