The NFL free agency market hasn't opened yet, but when it opens, there will be plenty of cornerbacks to choose from.
The Buccaneers need to find cornerbacks, a lot, and quickly. Their current starting cornerbacks are, believe it or not, Leonard Johnson and Anthony Gaitor. I can hear Drew Brees's smacks of delight already. Fortunately, the Bucs have a ton of cap room and can spend like crazy to find quality starters in free agency. And there are lots of them. In fact, as has been the case the previous two or three years, cornerback may be the deepest and highest quality free agency class among all positions. That, at least, is what Rotoworld believes.
This position is loaded with quality NFL starters, and the prohibitive $10.67 million cornerback franchise number ensures it will stay that way. Aqib Talib, 27, Brent Grimes, 29, Sean Smith, 25, Chris Houston, 28, Derek Cox, 26, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 26, all have experience as No. 1 corners, and of them only Grimes will be 30 years old when the 2013 season starts.
Super Bowl champ Cary Williams, 28, is believed to be looking to break the bank and may have trouble landing the lucrative deal he desires. E.J. Biggers, 25, Antoine Cason, 26, Keenan Lewis, 26, and Mike Jenkins, 27, could be more affordable targets with their best football ahead of them. Bradley Fletcher, 26, and Greg Toler, 28, are potential diamonds in the rough. Darius Butler, 26, Brice McCain, 26, Kyle Arrington, 26, and D.J. Moore, 25, can cover the slot on passing downs. Pacman Jones, 29, is coming off a quietly solid season as Cincinnati's nickel back. Jerraud Powers, 25, and Tracy Porter, 26, are intriguing "rehab" projects after injury-affected years.
Obviously past their primes, Sheldon Brown, 33, Quentin Jammer, 33, Terence Newman, 34, and Rashean Mathis, 32, each may have a year or two left as solid starting cornerbacks in the league. Brown, Jammer, and Mathis could potentially extend their careers by converting to safety.
Although former first-round pick Leodis McKelvin has not panned out as a cover corner, he is still only 27 and led the NFL in 2012 punt return average while bringing back two punts to the house.
To me, Sean Smith is the most intriguing player on the market, as he's big, fast, talented, physical and still very young. Given the depth of this group, the Bucs could easily walk out of free agency with two or three cornerbacks, which would leave them free to choose the best available player in the draft.
Of course, there's one crucial question you have to ask yourself for each of these free agents: why are they free agents in the first place? Usually, the answer to that question will lead you to reasons not to sign them.