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Cornerback could be a position where the Ravens see major change this offseason.
Baltimore has two unrestricted free agents in Chris Carr and Fabian Washington. Josh Wilson is going into his fifth season and could be eligible for free agency under a new collective bargaining agreement.
The Ravens are expected to take a long look at cornerbacks in this year’s draft in an effort to infuse youth, but Baltimore also did so last season as well and did not draft a cornerback.
Instead, the Ravens signed veteran Walt Harris, who was cut later during the preseason, and traded for Wilson just before the start of the season.
If the Ravens opt for the veteran route again, there’s a bounty of big names on the market.
Here’s a look at who’s out there:
Note: Until there’s a new collective bargaining agreement, the Ravens can only re-sign their own players or assign them tenders. If there is a work stoppage, free agency will be postponed. Until further notice, Baltimore is operating under the 2010 free agency rules, which doesn’t grant unrestricted free agency until a player has at least six years in the league. That could change with a new agreement and make veterans with at least four years in the NFL unrestricted.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders
Unrestricted; 6-2, 210 pounds; 8 years 2010 Stats: 19 tackles, 6 pass deflections, 1 interception
Asomugha is perhaps the biggest prize on the entire free agent market. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler who doesn’t get many tackles, pass deflections or interceptions simply because he shuts down his side of the field. Asomugha will fetch a huge contract wherever he goes.
(Upside – Elite talent; Downside – Cost)
Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
Unrestricted; 6-0, 192; 12 years 2010 Stats: 45 tackles, 1 sack, 13 pass deflections, 2 interceptions
Even at 32 years old, Bailey is still an elite cornerback. He went to his 10th Pro Bowl this season. The Broncos are in flux with new management and coach, so they may choose to rebuild and let Bailey get his next payday elsewhere.
(Upside – Elite talent; Downside – Cost, Age)
Carlos Rogers, Washington Redskins
Unrestricted; 6-0, 189; 6 years 2010 Stats: 53 tackles, 12 pass deflections, 2 interceptions
Rogers is one of the game’s better cover cornerbacks. But his hands have consistently plagued him, which takes away from some of the things he does well. He could have more interceptions if he could catch the ball better. Still, the former first-round pick would be a good addition to any defense.
(Upside – Talent; Downside – Playmaking)
Stanford Routt, Oakland Raiders
Unrestricted; 6-1, 195; 6 years 2010 Stats: 55 tackles, 13 pass deflections, 2 interceptions
Routt plays in Asomugha’s shadow, but has developed into a very solid and dependable corner (missing just two starts during his career). Routt has just six interceptions during his six-year career, but notched a career-best 13 pass deflections in 2010.
(Upside – Size, Dependability; Downside – Playmaking)
Johnathan Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals
Restricted; 5-11, 190; 5 years 2010 Stats: 42 tackles, 8 pass deflections, 3 interceptions
Joseph didn’t have the kind of year he put up in 2009, recording half as many interceptions and less than half as many pass deflections. But Cincinnati’s defense as a whole wasn’t as good this season. The physical, yet smaller corner has picked off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco twice in five meetings.
(Upside – Playmaker; Downside – Consistency)
Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets
Restricted; 6-2, 210; 5 years 2010 Stats: 42 tackles, 17 pass deflections, 3 interceptions
Cromartie has huge potential and can at times be a lock-down guy. He’s lanky and covers the deep ball well, but he can be exposed by shorter, quick receivers. His physical nature can also get him in trouble with officials. Cromartie isn’t the most willing run defender and brings off-field issues.
(Upside – Playmaker, Athleticism; Downside – Consistency, Character Issues)
Brent Grimes, Atlanta Falcons
Restricted; 5-10, 181, 4 years 2010 Stats: 87 tackles, 28 pass deflections, 5 interceptions
Grimes is similar to Ravens cornerback Chris Carr – except Grimes went to the 2010 Pro Bowl. The former undrafted free agent out of Shippensburg University is undersized, but plays with sound technique, is tough and has a nose for the football (led the NFL in pass deflections). He’s expected to return to Atlanta after a breakout campaign.
(Upside – Toughness, Smarts; Downside – Size)