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NFL Free Agency: With Browns Missing Out on Top Free Agent Corners, Where Do They Turn Before the NFL Draft?
By Sam Ingro
Heading into the free agency period, the list of available cornerbacks seemed like a mile long. One by one, however, that list has quickly begun to shrink as players pick the team they intend to spend the 2013 season with.
The players to find new homes so far include: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Broncos), Derek Cox (Chargers), Dunta Robinson (Chiefs), Sean Smith (Chiefs), Greg Toler (Colts), Chris Houston (Lions), Bradley Fletcher (Eagles) and Cary Williams (Eagles).
While teams were making moves to lock down their secondary, the Cleveland Browns had to stand idly by while watching player after player sign to different teams. While they have been linked to many corners, all they have walked away with in free agency thus far is DE Desmond Bryant, OLB Paul Kruger, OLB Quinten Groves and TE Gary Barnidge.
While the new additions are all quality pick-ups, it still leaves a hole the size of Montana in the middle of their secondary. Currently Joe Haden and T.J. Ward are the only expected starters, with vacancies at free safety and the other cornerback position. In today’s NFL, everyone knows the focus has turned to the passing game, so who can the Browns look to sign heading into the draft to fill the void at cornerback?
Available Free Agents:
While the list is getting shorter, it doesn’t mean there isn’t good talent left in the free agency pool. Nnamdi Asomugha doesn’t fit the spending habits of Joe Banner, and Antoine Winfield doesn’t meet the age requirements the Browns have been pursuing. Both players are unlikely to wind up in Cleveland, but the following list are players that very well could.
Captain Munnerlyn, Panthers
Coach Chudzinski is likely pretty familiar with his former player in Carolina. The South Carolina Gamecock corner, Munnerlyn, enters free agency at the age of 24-years old. Already with four years of NFL experience, he would bring reliability and play-making ability to the Browns secondary opposite of Haden. Last season, he started 11 games, but appeared in all 16. In those games, he notched 61 tackles, nine passes defended, two interceptions and two touchdowns. While not an elite corner by any means, he is quite capable of covering the No. 2 receivers while Haden locks down the No. 1 receivers.
Brent Grimes, Falcons
Grimes is coming off a torn Achilles injury, but has a history of solid work prior to last season’s trip to the injured reserve list. A six-year pro, Grimes will be turning 30 this summer, but doesn’t appear to have slowed down any. In Grimes last full season, 2010, he put up eye-catching numbers with 87 tackles, 23 passes defended and five interceptions. If he can be acquired cheaply enough, he would fall into the low risk-high reward category and the Browns could be getting a real steal in free agency.
Antoine Cason, Chargers
Cason may be the most tempting option for Cleveland. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner would know Cason quite well, as he has spent his career in San Diego under his head coaching tutelage. With five seasons under his belt, and at just 26-years old, Cason has compiled 308 tackles, 55 passes defended, 12 interceptions and four forced fumbles. Last season featured his first season starting 16 full games, and he put together career numbers. Cason is a corner on his way up, and the Browns would be smart to buy-in while they can.
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