But is the 2010 free agent market for cornerbacks a deep one? Here are my top five cornerbacks that will be free agents this offseason:
(Note: This series of lists only includes unrestricted free agents, as those are the only type that can be signed without giving up compensation. Restricted free agents—especially the best ones—will cost valuable draft picks.)
1. Leigh Bodden, New England Patriots
In a risky move, Bodden reportedly turned down a four-year, $16 million contract with the Patriots to sign a one-year deal in hopes of improving his stock and earning a bigger multi-year deal in 2010.
It's a gamble that looks like it will pay off for Bodden, as he had an outstanding season in New England. Bodden led the team with 17 pass deflections and intercepted five passes.
2. Dunta Robinson, Houston Texans
Robinson has struggled in coverage the last few years and failed to record one interception in 2009, despite starting all 16 games for the Texans.
He has certainly fallen off quite a bit since an impressive six-interception rookie season in 2004, and he's heading into free agency hoping to make his money on potential rather than recent performance.
3. Dre' Bly, San Francisco 49ers
In his first season with the 49ers, Bly started six of 16 games and recorded 29 tackles, two forced fumbles, three interceptions, and 13 pass deflections.
At age 32, Bly is no longer the player he once was and lacks ideal speed for the position, but he is a proven veteran with a quality track record that can still start in a pinch.
4. Anthony Henry, Detroit Lions
Once a very solid corner with the Browns and Cowboys, Henry played his way out of Dallas with sub-par play in 2008, and landed with the lowly Lions.
Starting only six of 14 games with Detroit in 2009, Henry recorded 46 tackles, two interceptions, and seven pass deflections—the second-lowest total in his nine seasons.
Henry doesn't have great speed and hasn't played well in a few years, but he's worth picking up on a minimum-salary contract.
5. Ken Lucas, Seattle Seahawks
In what seems to be a running theme on this list, Lucas is another 30-something cornerback who, despite being good a few years back, hasn't played well of late.
Lucas has more athletic ability than Henry, but he's been similarly bad the last couple years, and doesn't offer much beyond a veteran backup.
Beyond the Top Five
- Walt Harris, San Francisco 49ers — Harris has been a solid cornerback in recent years, and intercepted eight passes as recently as 2006, but he's 35 and coming off a torn ACL that forced him to miss all of the 2009 season. He may play in 2010, but he's likely through being an impact player.
- William James, Detroit Lions — James had a few good seasons with the Giants in the early part of last decade, but he was awful for the Lions in 2009 and has nothing left.
- Ty Law, Denver Broncos — The 35-year-old Law wasn't too horrible in less than half a season in Denver. He doesn't have much left, but he can probably still help someone the way he has the Jets and Broncos the last few years.
- Deshea Townsend, Pittsburgh Steelers — Townsend started a few seasons out of necessity in Pittsburgh, but he's never been a playmaker and has always profiled as more of a backup. He probably only has a few years left in the league as someone that will be 35 in 2010, but could be a reliable fourth cornerback.
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