Oct 7, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive back Alterraun Verner (20) against the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Titans 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
If the headline of this article contains information that shocks or surprises you, head here first to read the latest on the developing Darrelle Revis situation.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the verge of letting go of the best cornerback in football, the need for players at the position vaults to the front of the line this offseason. Defensive end Michael Johnson seems set to head to Tampa to bolster the defensive line, but that’s not enough to get the defense up to par.
So who are some of the options at cornerback for the Buccaneers this spring? Here are some of the top candidates.
Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans
A quarterback rating of 55.8 would be really disappointing for Buccaneers fans, right? Not in this case, as that’s the rating that quarterbacks earned while throwing at players covered by Alterraun Verner last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Verner is almost certainly the top free agent corner this season, as the former UCLA Bruin had a lights-out year with the Titans. Verner is only 25, and seems to still be on the rise, so his price tag will be high. But if the Buccaneers can reach the right deal with him, they’ll have a solid corner for years to come.
Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts
Another 25-year-old who’s rated highly by PFF and set to enter his prime on a big free agent contract is Vontae Davis of the Colts. The problem is, according to Niners Nation’s scouting report of Davis, he seems to be more of a press-man corner than the versatile player Lovie Smith apparently covets, if he’s getting rid of Darrelle Revis (an elite man corner).
Davis is a talented guy who has come a long way over the past couple of years, but he doesn’t seem to represent the best scheme fit for the Buccaneers at this time.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos
DRC seems likely to stay in Denver with the Broncos, but if he hit the market, the Buccaneers would have to take a look. He’s an incredible athlete who gets burned from time to time, but with safety help and good coaching, he could prove to be a top-flight corner at a slightly reduced price compared to the two players above.
Walter Thurmond III, Seattle Seahawks
If the Buccaneers don’t want an elite corner, but would prefer to add a pair of players to add depth at the position, Thurmond could be a great fit. A nickel back in Seattle, Thurmond could certainly make the move to the outside, or move around and provide versatility to his next team.
Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears
Tillman is an obvious option for the Buccaneers, considering his ties to Lovie Smith from their time together in Chicago. Tillman is a bit too old and injured to rely on as a number one corner, but he’s definitely still capable, and if healthy, he provides an strong veteran presence at the position.
Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets
Could the Bucs move from one Jets cast-off to another? Cromartie isn’t as dominant as Darrelle Revis, and like Tillman he’s a bit too old and banged up to rely on as a franchise cornerstone, but he’s definitely one of the most talented and proven players on the market at this position.
Brandon Browner, Seattle Seahawks
A wild card in this whole ordeal, Browner was set to be banned from the NFL due to missing and failing drug tests, but was given a reprieve by commissioner Roger Goodell. He’s clearly got talent, but he’ll be 30 this season and is a failed drug test away from never playing in the NFL again (more than likely).
If Lovie Smith thinks he can keep Browner on the right track, he could be a good option to provide depth at a now very thin position.