Even though there’s not many unrestricted free agent cornerbacks out there, many fans would love for TD to lock up a solid, starting cornerback to go along with the youth movement in the secondary. Chris Owens and Brent Grimes looked like 2010 day one starters down the stretch, but nabbing a corner with good starting experience would be nice. Chris Houston looks to have one more big chance to prove he’s legit and may have already lost his starting spot to Grimes. Chevis Jackson followed up an excellent rookie year in the nickel with some road bumps in 2009. Tye Hill is the big x-factor, obviously having a ton of talent and the Falcons will give him every chance to regain his mojo with an entire off-season. The addition of new secondary coach Tim Lewis may prove to be the difference. He was frank about the cornerbacks need for improvement in their coverage skills. Even though Brian Williams had a major knee injury, Dimitroff has made it sound as though he may return back to form. A look at some free agent corners that could bolster the secondary:
Bodden had a very good year in New England and would definitely come in and be a number one cornerback from day one. He signed on with the Patriots for a one year,$2.25 million dollar deal, basically to prove he could regain his swagger after a down year with the Detroit Lions. Bodden had an excellent year, picking off five passes and playing over 80% of the teams snaps throughout the year. Likely will command a high dollar, multi-year deal and latest news has him wanting to re-up with the Patriots. Would be nice for many fans wanting a taller cornerback, but likely way out of the Falcons price range.
Last memory Falcons fans have of Dre Bly is the botched interception where he started to showboat a little too early on a pick and was stripped by Roddy White on a major hustle play. Bly was not even the starting cornerback last year for the 49ers, sitting behind Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer. The Falcons would likely not pay for any free agent corners that are over 30 years of age and only played nickel, but Bly did play over 700 snaps last year and had one of the best opposing QB Ratings at 59.0, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Seems given the choice of signing someone like Bly and drafting another young corner to develop, the latter is the obvious pick.
Likely a big, big reach for the Falcons. At his peak, Hood was an excellent cornerback starting 30 games at corner for the Arizona Cardinals with his best year coming in 2007, pulling down 5 interceptions, 21 passes defensed, and 2 interception returns for touchdowns. The wheels obviously came off in 2009 where he was released by three teams (Cardinals, Browns, and Bears) since last April. Played in only three games after being picked up by the Titans, where he had three interceptions and returned one for a TD, but only played started one game in the next 8 week span. The Falcons already have one major project in Tye Hill, would they really want another one?
Carlos Rogers – Redskins
Richard Marshall – Panthers
Tramon Williams – Packers
Ellis Hobbs – Eagles
Fabian Washington – Ravens
As you can see there just aren’t that many names out there to sign in terms of cornerbacks, and free agency as a whole, due to the uncapped year and the move from 4 years to 6 years needed to become an unrestricted free agent. The Falcons have plenty of depth and it certainly should make for a great competition with 6 cornerbacks already on the roster (assuming Brian Williams is re-signed), 7 if TD drafts a corner, and a new secondary coach that seems to determined to improve the corners.