With Captain Munnerlyn breaking the news that he was re-signing with the Carolina Panthers and E.J. Biggers signing with the Washington Redskins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't have many options left at cornerback. The Bucs let the first wave of free agency roll by without signing a cornerback. Then the second wave. And then the third wave, too. Meanwhile, everyone seems to have gotten snapped up somewhere.
Admittedly, the top free agent cornerbacks this season weren't overly impressive -- but none of them exactly signed backbreaking contracts, either. And now the Buccaneers find themselves locked into Darrelle Revis trade talks while they look for cheap cornerbacks who may be able to start elsewhere. Their new philosophy does seemingly focus on very expensive free agents and very cheap ones, and none of the middle class in between. But the Buccaneers must find some cornerbacks soon, unless they plan on keeping Eric Wright. Even then they would need to add someone else, since starting Leonard Johnson and using Danny Gorrer as a nickel cornerback isn't exactly appealing to anyone.
So, who's left?
The former Falcon has gotten some interest around the NFL, most notably from the Cleveland Browns, and the Buccaneers have reportedly spoken to him. When he was healthy he was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, though he wasn't quite on the level of Darrelle Revis. But two season-ending injuries have harmed him, and he will be 30 years old when the season starts. Coming off an Achilles injury (far more serious than an ACL injury) it's not clear whether or when he'll be able to play at a high level again. That means signing Grimes would be a risky proposition, to say the least. Still, he's clearly the best cornerback on the market.
Formerly Pacman. Played some good football the past two seasons as a nickel cornerback, but he's struggled to stay healthy. He may add some value as a returner, too. He's not great, and at 29 he isn't the youngest player around anymore either, but he would at least provide a short-term upgrade at the right price.
Scratch that, Jones re-signed with the Bengals as he announced on Twitter.
The old man on the market, at age 35 it's hard to see Winfield as much more than a stopgap. Still, he was a pretty good player even last year and his physical style would certainly be a good fit with the Buccaneers. His run defense will particularly intrigue the Bucs, as he regularly posts 90+ tackles on a season. If he comes cheap and the Bucs have few other options, signing Winfield may give them at least a one-year solution.
Nnamdi Asomugha was one of the two best cornerbacks in the NFL not too long. And then he started to play like the second coming of Alan Zemaitis when he got to Philadelphia. He looked like he was completely done the past two seasons, and if he plays at that level he probably wouldn't even be an upgrade for the Buccaneers. However, if you can sign him to a cheap contract he may be worth a flier. As long as you don't plan on him making the roster, let alone starting.
Yeah. Mike Jenkins. The guy the Buccaneers could have drafted instead of Aqib Talib back in 2008. He ended up with the Cowboys, and it seems neither the Bucs nor the Cowboys were exactly happy with their choices. Bucs fans seem to love Jenkins as a local boy, but he's hardly, well, good. He may be an upgrade if you manage to sign him to a cheap contract, but he'd mostly be here to compete for depth purposes. Not someone you can count on to step in and start.
Like Antoine Winfield: old, physical, still has something left -- but not all that much. May be a good stopgap, although you're better off signing Winfield in that case. Not likely to be a serious option for the Bucs unless they're truly desperate.
See Sheldon Brown.
The former Super Bowl hero is still young and hasn't looked bad per se in his career so far. Unfortunately, he has never played a 160game season, missed 10 games last season and isn't great even when healthy. He's undersized and lacks physicality and tackling ability. Sign him cheap and let him compete would be my motto. At least his age speaks for him, as he's just 26 years old.
Renowned for his big highlights, he has far more lowlights. Those highlights happen because he gambles, a lot, and gets burned, a lot. He also lacks some physicality (recurring theme here), which will hurt his case with the Bucs. Wouldn't be a bad short-term signing -- if he'd come cheap. Hardly someone you can count on, though. Did look pretty decent in more of a slot rule last season.
See Quentin Jammer.
See Terence Newman.
Was a great slot cornerback a few years ago but has now aged rapidly. So ehm: see Rashean Mathis.