A year ago, Ravens fans dreamed of Nnamdi Asomugha, the star free agent cornerback who eventually signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. After all, the secondary was an area where the Ravens needed to improve.
What a difference a year makes. The Ravens drafted Jimmy Smith in the first round of the 2011 draft, and Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams had breakout seasons. Now the cornerback position is a strength for the Ravens, who released veterans Chris Carr and Domonique Foxworth in the past week. The Ravens could sign a cheap veteran or use a late draft pick on a cornerback to add depth, but it’s not a need now.
Those teams that are looking to sign a starting cornerback will get a few fine free agents to chase after.
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Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans, Carlos Rogers of the San Francisco 49ers, Brandon Carr of the Kansas City Chiefs and Tracy Porter of the New Orleans Saints are the most attractive of the unrestricted free agents at cornerback. And Webb, a restricted free agent, might get an offer sheet or two shoved his way.
Don’t worry, though. Webb has said he wants to be in Baltimore, and the Ravens have stated that they are receptive to exploring an extension for Webb, who has three NFL seasons under his belt.
Here is a look at the top free agent cornerbacks on the market and where they could wind up in 2012.
1. Cortland Finnegan: This feisty, physical cornerback is likely on the outs in Tennessee, and the Detroit Lions, coached by former Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, are an ideal match.
Potential suitors: Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans.
2. Brandon Carr: The Kansas City Chiefs say they want Carr back, but they already have a talented young cornerback in Brandon Flowers and they just signed Stanford Routt. Look for him to leave.
Potential suitors: Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos.
3. Carlos Rogers: Rogers, who signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers, had a breakout season after leaving the Washington Redskins. The 49ers will push hard to convince him to stay.
Potential suitors: San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions.
4. Tracy Porter: Porter, best known for his pick-six against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl, is a solid option for the teams who miss out on the top three cornerbacks.
Potential suitors: New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions.
5. Richard Marshall: It feels like Marshall has been in the NFL forever, but he is only 27. He spent his first five seasons in Carolina before signing last season with Arizona. He started nine games in 2011.
Potential suitors: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts.
Other notable free agents (2011 team in parenthesis): Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross (New York Giants), Tim Jennings (Chicago Bears), William Gay and Bryant McFadden (Pittsburgh Steelers), Chris Carr and Domonique Foxworth (Baltimore Ravens), Frank Walker (Dallas Cowboys), Ronde Barber (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Adam Jones (Cincinnati Bengals).