Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
Blog Entry

2012 NFL Free Agency: Cornerback rankings

Posted on: March 1, 2012 8:12 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 10:21 am
 
Follow all our 2012 free-agent rankings here (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the cornerbacks.

The NFL is a passing league, which puts a premium on quarterbacks and wide receivers on offense, and pass rushers and cornerbacks on defense. Incidentally, these positions are among the league's highest paid, too. Go figure.

1. Cortland Finnegan

Breakdown: The former seventh-round pick out of Samford has turned a draft-day oversight into a career fueled by motivation. Finnegan's on-field skills are sometimes overlooked by his trash-talking and knack for playing just past the whistle. But there's no disputing his ability. And if the Titans don't re-sign him (the two sides were reportedly far apart on a deal earlier this week), expect a CB-needy team to pony up. Like, say, the Cowboys.

Possible landing spots: Cowboys, Titans, Texans (for the sheer Andre Johnson/Kevin Walter awkwardness)

2. Brent Grimes

UPDATE: The Falcons franchised Grimes Friday

Breakdown:
Another small-school player who has emerged as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. The Falcons are working to re-sign Grimes (worst case: they'll franchise him), who played opposite Dunta Robinson in recent seasons. ProFootballFocus ranks Grimes as their No. 1 free-agent CB, noting that he allowed just 258 total receiving yards in 2011.

Possible landing spots: Falcons

3. Carlos Rogers

Breakdown: Perhaps it's coincidence that Rogers' breakout performance came a year after he left the Redskins, the team that drafted him in the first round back in 2005. In Washington, he was considered a bust, a cornerback who got beat too often and dropped too many should-be interceptions. In San Francisco, he looked like the player the Skins envisioned they were getting on draft day. Rogers recorded six interceptions (he had eight in six previous seasons) and 18 passes defended in 2011, and said recently that he hopes to get a deal down with the 49ers before free agency. If not, he's a candidate for the franchise tag, assuming that honor doesn't go to safety Dashon Goldson

Possible landing spots: 49ers, Cowboys

4. Brandon Carr

Breakdown: Carr was taken in the fifth round of the 2008 draft as a Cover-2 cornerback. In three years, he's emerged as one of the Chiefs' best defenders and if he doesn't return to K.C. (the organization hopes to keep him), the Cowboys have grand plans of bringing him to Dallas (yes, just like Finnegan). Kansas City signed Stanford Routt in February but GM Scott Pioli said during a recent radio interview that "The signing of Stanford Routt does not impact where we’re at with Brandon Carr. As a matter of fact, Romeo and I both reached out to Brandon yesterday as this was unfolding and talked to him."

Possible landing spots: Chiefs, Cowboys

5. Lardarius Webb

                                                                            (Getty Images)
Breakdown: After a solid rookie campaign in 2009, Webb regressed in Year 2 only to have his best NFL season in 2011. The Ravens appear set to tender him as a restricted free agent and have him play opposite 2011 first-rounder Jimmy Williams. According to PFF, he didn't allow a single touchdown last season. Webb is also a capable return man.

Possible landing spots: Ravens

6. Terrell Thomas

Breakdown: Thomas suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason but the Giants could choose to re-sign him and let former first-rounder Aaron Ross walk. Thomas' 2010 season can kindly be described as disastrous, but he played well in 2009and at 27, he has plenty of upside. CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan tweeted Thursday that the Giants and Thomas are closing in on a deal.

Possible landing spots: Giants

7. Tracy Porter

Breakdown: Porter is best known as "that guy who was on the receiving end of the Peyton Manning Super Bowl gift," but he hasn't lived up to expectations as a former second-round pick. That's not to say he's been a disappointment just that he hasn't been a breakout player. In his top-50 free-agent rankings, CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco offers an apt description: "He is a good, solid starting corner, and those guys get paid. The Saints probably won't be able to keep him. He turns 26 in August."

Possible landing spots: Lions

8. Aaron Ross

Breakdown: Ross, like former teammate Thomas, has been plagued by injuries. He's also one of the six Giants cornerbacks set to hit free agency. But unlike Thomas, the former first-rounder may have played his last down in New York. As the New York Daily News noted earlier this week, "(Thomas) was the starter over Ross before he tore his ACL in August. The Giants had even expressed an interest in extending his contract last summer before he got hurt." Still, like we said at the outset: this is a passing league, which means that even mediocre cornerbacks won't have trouble finding work. If Ross can stay healthy, he'll have a job.

Possible landing spots: Lions, Cowboys

9. Tim Jennings

                                                                            (Getty Images)
Breakdown: At first glance, Jennings is undersized and outmatched. That explains why the Colts parted ways with him in 2009, four years after they drafted him in the second round. It's with some irony then that Jennings' performed well in the Bears' defense. As PFF points out, Jennings is primarily a Cover-2 cornerback, a potential limitation given that teams are moving away from that scheme. Even though he was benched last year, Jennings didn't allow a touchdown. While he's not a starter, he provides quality depth in the right system.

Possible landing spots: Cover-2 teams looking for a nickel or dime back

10. William Gay

Breakdown: Gay, like most names at the bottom of this list, isn't an NFL starter. The Steelers tried that in 2010 with disastrous results. But Gay is a pretty good nickel back who can serve as a spot starter. Given that Pittsburgh has invested five years into him learning Dick LeBeau's scheme, they might try to bring him back. If not, he won't have any issues landing with another team.

Possible landing spots: Steelers, Lions

Honorable Mention

Richard Marshall, Eric Wright, Rashean Mathis, Ronde Barber, Marcus Trufant, Phillip Buchanon, Jason Allen, Kelly Jennings, Adam Jones, Antwaun Molden, Cary Williams (RFA), Jacob Lacey (RFA), Keenan Lewis (RFA)

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed
Comments

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: March 13, 2012 10:37 am
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Cornerback rankings

Everyone knows the Bucs need a CB and you do not even have them as a possibility for Finnegan or Carr? 



Since: Nov 24, 2007
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:12 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Cornerback rankings

Can't see Finegan in Texas. He might make a good Cowgirl though if Jerry would bring him on. Ryan would love the dirty little Leprechan though.



Since: Sep 17, 2010
Posted on: March 2, 2012 8:51 am
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Cornerback rankings

For obvious reasons Finnegan will not be going to the Texans, which is understandable.  Also completely understandable why Texans fans dont like him.  However, you cannot deny one thing....he took on what is probably the largest and strongest WR in the NFL without blinking an eye..the guy is tough, and scrapy.  Regardless of what anyone might think about his attitude or what happens after the whistle is blown, he is still one of the best CB before the whistle is blown.   Jerry, make it happen!!!!



Since: Dec 20, 2009
Posted on: March 2, 2012 5:24 am
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Cornerback rankings

Wouldn't it be funny to see Innegan in a Texans jersey.  Maybe Andre would give him the F back in his name, since he beat it out of him two seasons ago.


hooyning
Since: Mar 2, 2012
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:22 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator



hooyning
Since: Mar 2, 2012
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:19 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Feb 27, 2008
Posted on: March 2, 2012 1:18 am
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Cornerback rankings

Cortland Finnegan is a punk ass.  Pass.



yookrood
Since: Mar 2, 2012
Posted on: March 2, 2012 12:31 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com