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February 6, 2013 @ 10:19 am
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

Bucs Look To Upgrade CB In Free Agency: Five Potential Targets

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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With free agency fast approaching (March 12) Pewter Report takes a look at some potential free agents at the Bucs most pressing need – cornerback. After surrendering the most yards in the NFL in 2012, Tampa Bay will need to find lots of help in order to become a playoff contender in 2013.
The NFL free agency period opens in just over a month (March 12, 4 p.m.) and the Buccaneers will almost certainly be looking to upgrade the cornerback position, one that was a major deficiency in 2012. Tampa Bay surrendered 4,758 yards through the air (297.4 yards per game) and 30 TDs, making it one of the worst secondaries in the history of the league.

General manager Mark Dominik and his scouting department, while keeping an eye on the upcoming draft, are spending time evaluating not only the players who are set to become free agents, but also in contact with the agents for some of their own players who will be free to sign elsewhere on March 12.

A new wrinkle in this year’s free agency period is the teams’ ability to enter into negotiations with free agents three days prior to the official start. In seasons past the start of free agency was a mad dash where teams had to predetermine what number the players targeted would accept. This hampered teams to a degree and in some cases caused teams to overpay. The new stipulation should be beneficial to all involved and should create a little less stressful environment for the teams, agents and players. It should also eliminate the tampering charges that tend to get hurled at some teams who signed players within minutes of the start of previous year’s free agency.

With cornerback the Buccaneers most glaring need, PewterReport.com takes a look at some of the players who are set to become free agents, which would provide an immediate upgrade to their secondary. The signing of free agents – or the inability to sign a free agent – will also help shape the draft plans for Tampa Bay. For example if the Bucs are able to sign what they feel is a definite starter, they may choose to target another position with the No. 13 overall pick.

Most scouts are in agreement that one Alabama’s Dee Milliner is off the draft board, there is a significant drop and question if the next highest rated corner would be a reach at No. 13. If Tampa Bay is able to sign one of the below free agents it most likely takes that dilemma off the table.

Derek Cox- Jacksonville Jaguars
Cox could be an option for the Bucs this offseason. Former Jaguars DBs coach Tony Oden reportedly will be the new defensive backs coach here in Tampa and that move could help sway Cox to consider Tampa Bay. Cox has played in 44 career games with 11 interceptions, 189 tackles, and 29 pass deflections. Cox has been improving immensely ever since his dreadful 2009 season, and has been slowly emerging as one of the most underrated defensive backs in the league. The scouting report on Cox is the former William & Mary star still has a high ceiling and will only get better. The biggest knock on Cox has been his inability to stay healthy.

Sean Smith- Miami Dolphins
Smith has missed just one game in his four-year career and has recorded 205 tackles, five interceptions, and 39 pass deflections. In 2012, he had two interceptions, as well as two forced fumbles. The former second-round pick stands tall at 6-3, 218 pounds and has the ability to go up against top receivers which really fits the mold in what Schiano and new director of college scouting Eric Stokes loves in a defensive back. Smith is thought to be a much better press-man cover corner, but struggles in zone coverage at times. His five interceptions in four years is a bit alarming, but Smith saw fewer balls thrown his way in 2012. While very talented, Smith gave up the second most TD passes by a corner in 2012; however, his size and intangibles will intrigue enough general managers to dish out, at the very least, Eric Wright ($7.5 million) money on the free agent market.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- Philadelphia Eagles
Rodgers-Cromartie was signed by the Eagles in 2011 as a part of the supposed “dream team”. He has underperformed the past two years, but has played better than his counterpart Nnamdi Asomugha. Rodgers-Cromartie has stayed healthy over his five-year career, playing in 74 games with 16 interceptions, 205 tackles, and 85 pass deflections. The former Arizona Cardinal could have a lot of upside for the Bucs if they’re willing to take a risk on him. He was a very solid cornerback while he played in Arizona, but took a steep drop in production when he went to Philadelphia. Rodgers-Cromartie is said to want to stay in Philly and may accept less money to do so. A majority of Eagles fans would be happy to see Rodgers-Cromartie in another uniform in 2013. At only 26 years of age, DRC as he is known, still has a ton of good years left, if he can stay healthy.

Brent Grimes- Atlanta Falcons
Grimes has played five years with the Atlanta Falcons and was in his sixth when he found his 2012 season cut short due to an Achilles injury. He has played in 59 games with 254 tackles, 13 interceptions, and 56 pass deflections. He has completed just two full seasons (2009 and 2010) but had a combined 11 interceptions through those 32 games. If Grimes doesn’t re-sign with the Falcons, he would be a good addition to the Bucs secondary with decent experience. Grimes is one of the most talented 2013 free agent cornerbacks, with top-end speed and good instincts, but does lack in ideal size (5-10), Add in the fact he is coming off an Achilles injury, and it may make some teams, including the Buccaneers, wary to pay big dollars. Plucking a guy off of a division rival will be an enticing proposition for Dominik and would hurt the Falcons to a degree, although they seemed to manage fine without Grimes in 2012.

Mike Jenkins- Dallas Cowboys
A local product (USF) Jenkins was a 2008 first-round pick by the Cowboys and was one of the better corners in Dallas before being relegated to the bench after Dallas signed free agent cornerback Brandon Carr and traded up to draft cornerback Morris Claiborne sixth overall last off-season. Jenkins also underwent reconstructive right shoulder surgery last off-season, however he appears to have recovered 100 percent. The former Bradenton Southeast star could quite possibly use a change of scenery and coming back home could go a long way in helping Jenkins realize his full potential.

–Haley Cornish contributed to this report







Last modified on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 19:18
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    I love Grimes, but I am worried about his injury, lots of places are saying he may not come back. Intrigued by Cox. With the rest of them, I would still double down with at least a 2nd round corner in addition. Smith is only one I wouldn't think would be an upgrade.
  • avatar

    Bucs definitely need a starting CB in free agency after they dump Eric Wright, which frees up plenty of money. Also need a first- or second-round rookie, high pedigree-type. Not saying we don't ALSO need a talented depth CB to develop, maybe using a fourth- or fifth-round pick as well. I'm in favor of trading down with the first pick unless some tremendous prospect falls in our lap. If we trade down, we should be able to get enough extra picks to trade back up like we did last year. We need those multiple picks in the late first round and second round in order to address our biggest needs: CB, DL, LB and TE. This draft has plenty of D-linemen, so late first round/early second round could still yield an impact rookie. Trading down could also still give us our pick of LBs Kevin Minter or Manti Te'o. As for CBs, I'm really big on Johnthan Banks. He's proved himself in the SEC.
  • avatar

    DRC would be my pick. Guy was a play making stud in ARZ. He didnt forgot how to play, just got lost in that horrific Philly DEF debacle that was this season. He is also a local guy and would be great to pair with a 2nd or 3rd rookie CB and another FA CB. That would free us up to take top pass rushing talent in 1st round like Ansah or Moore or even some of the elite OT like Lane Johnson or Luke Jocker. That would be best available drafting and give us much needed depth on the OLine and DLine.
  • avatar


    I see where Mel Kiper predicts the Bucs will pick Teo (LB-Notre Dame) in the 1st round, and Todd McShay predicts Damontre Moor (DE-Texas A & M) in the 1st round. Hmmmm. Wonder if Teo will bring his girlfriend with him...sorry, that was a cheap shot.
  • avatar


    Add Grimes and/or Cox. The Other three aren't very good. Injury history means nothing. V. Jackson Was hurt all the time in San Diego and Carl Nick's had never had an injury. Both of their fortunes reversed once they came here.
  • avatar


    I would like DRC to end up in Tampa, I think the only reason he didn't succeed in Philly was because of the scheme. Also, did anyone else see that Chris Canty was released from the Giants? Watched him a little last season and he looked pretty good. And lets be honest, anyone from that Giant D-line I wouldn't mind having.
  • avatar


    Man, I'm praying we don't end up stuck with Sean Smith. According to peripheral statistics, he rates as the 2nd worst coverage CB in the entire league over the past 2 seasons. He gives up first downs like it's his job. The only name on the FA market that I really have interest in is DRC. Put him in a man-heavy scheme and he'll flourish with us. Also, would like for us to resign EJ as a 3rd or 4th CB - solid in dime/nickel and good depth.
  • avatar


    I SEE THAT TAMPA BAY HAS ITS EYE'S ON SEVERAL CB'S FROM SENIOR BOWL PLUS A SAFETY OR TWO FROM THAT 2013 SENIOR BOWL CLASS. I SEE THAT FIVE LIST OF CB'S FROM THE NFL IS A GOOD GROUP.I'd remember that Mike Jenkins was assured he thought that Tampa would select him, Well He was not. I like the five like I said. But wouldn't that be something the secind time around TAMPA PICKS HIM UP AND HE THEN WILL SHOW WHAT DALLAS DIDNOT GET THAT HE WANTED ACTUAL PLAY IN HIS HOME TOWN WHERE HE PLAYED COLLEGE BALL,Plus get two CB thru the draft maybe a 2 and a 4th pick. I still think if Tampa gets the veteran they want to play CB and start.Then I would trade down from #13 and pickup another 2 and a 4th. That would give Tampa to move up and select the others they want. I would love for Tampa like I'd said in otherMOVE UP AFTER THEY MOVE DOWN AND GET THE NEXT WARREN SAPP OR A DERRICK BROOKS-GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Clearwater, I've heard some of the same things you mentioned about Cary Williams. Buyer beware!
  • avatar


    Living in the Baltimore area, I can say from witnessing every Ravens game this year that the Bucs would be wise in avoiding Cary Williams. Yeah, he had several picks. But for every 1 good play he made, he had about 5 prior bone-headed plays before. He would get twisted around in coverage, his back was always to the play, or he would run so far past his man that he would have to turn around and come back to make the tackle. Most of his interceptions were easy "gimme's". Stay away from Williams.
  • avatar

    If the Buc's got Cary Williams I'd boycott the team. No place in the NFL for a fist fight starting thug like him. He might enjoy hockey more!
  • avatar


    Scubog, RotoWorld has Talib listed as the top CB in FA. CNN-Boston reports that he is likely to get multiple offers in the 8 to 10mil range.There are over 40 CBs in FA. Talib is followed by Brent Grimes, Sean Smith, Chris Houston, Cary Williams, DRC, and drum roll please, our own E.J. Biggers. Yes mgchat76, the Bucs will try to re-sign Biggers. ProfootballFocus has Biggers rated as #7 overall. I guess one man's trash is another man's treasure. Hitchcock couldn't have written a better ending than this!http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/42077/309/nfl-free-agent-master-list-13?pg=4
  • avatar


    PR - I notice that Biggers name is left off of this list although he's a FA. Have you gotten a general sense of how the Bucs see him? Most fans, including myself, would like to see us part ways and look for upgrades. I have this gut feeling that while the Bucs will look to add one CB in FA and one more in the draft, but that Biggers is still in their future plans. Please tell me I'm crazy.
  • avatar

    Biggers could very well be back. I think he played much better this season although he seems allergic to interceptions! He may get a one-year deal to see how he performs in his second season. If Myron comes back then Biggers deserves to also.
  • avatar


    There's another free agent to be CB out there who might be worth a "shot". He's a former 1st round draft pick who, as a rookie, started hitting people even before he got on his first practice field. He may even be able to help institute a new "pistol defense" to defend the new "pistol" offenses that are coming into vogue. He's a true role mode having played for the winner of the Unibomber look alike contest, Bill Bilichek. If he goes out on the town and has had too much to drink he has the good sense to wale, er, hail a cabbie. Since he's often nursing a hamstring injury or suspended for various league infractions he transforms himself into a snappy dresser on the sidelines cheering on his teammates. So what if he only plays 8 games a year. Why it's our very own Aqib Talib!
  • avatar


    scubog, that is really funny.
  • avatar

    Well since we aren't taking a corner with our 13th pick according to PR and fellow posters who like DL instead and Miilner will be gone and Rhodes and Banks grade out in the bottom of the first and 13th would be to high, lol then I guess we are signing one of these guys. 1. S Smith 2. Grimes anything else would be Eric Wright level all over again
  • avatar


    Smh should've got a third round pick For taking the bucks21 Make it too obvious When They wanna trade seems they always take da first option instead of making some type of trade leverage like With blount I Feel even if the front office knows they wanna trade him u shoudlve left him n at starter so he puts forward his best effort therefore making teams given there best offer sometimes schianos straight forward honesty hints him n the long run the NFL. Is so much Like poker u can't be so quick to Show Your hand might as Well be on hardknocks.
  • avatar

    Our corners as of right now are kind of small so i would LOVE to see Sean Smith get signed he already lives in Florida and is a good player. Love his size and the way he plays. If we get him i still think we need to sign another CB in FA but not one at the top of list..someone like McKelvin who can return kicks as well as play CB or even Tracy Porter. And draft one in the 2nd or 3rd round....Also this is kind of off subject but the RB Bradshaw from NY got the boot today I wonder if the Bucs are interested in signing him to a deal since he kind of already knows Sullivans offense and is a heck of a lot better than Ware and Blount.
  • avatar

    I agree with most are saying. This is just a list of guys who make some sense. And lets face it, I believe even Jenkins would be an upgrade over a majority. He is far from the best available but is servicable with still a little upside in my opinion. I personally like some other guys as well like McKelvin who could double as a kick returner. I didnt list any RFA guys but obviously Shields would be the cream of the crop in most people's eye. Just doubtful he gets away from Green Bay. THe Jenkins thing is based on the hometown connection more than anything.
  • avatar

    None of them sound that great to me but still better than what we have.Either there coming off injury,kinda short,maybe not a "buccaneer Man" type of player or really just above average. Hopefully we find at least one great CB in the draft who will start and be productive right away.I believe if we happen to draft a DT (hopefully a Great DT) @ pick #13 it will help bring better pressure on the QB which will really help our secondary and help make up for a rookie CB and whatever CB's we have. Ugh! GO BUCS!!!
  • avatar


    Sam shields from sarasota
  • avatar


    DRC is from bradenton to ,sign Sean smith if he's not franchised and Rogers- cromartie ,I like Cary Williams cause we need some thug attitude on the playing field if we ever wanna create a home field advantage again and draft in the 1st round a pass rusher either at de ,dt or lb ,2nd round te lb or fs ,3rd cb te or rt
  • avatar


    Keenin Lewis Cary Williams Tracy Porter Quentin Jammer Sam Shields Chris Carr Antoine Cason Chris Houston Leodis McKelvin Rashean Mathis Marcus Trufant.....all proven better than Jenkins. Just sayin.
  • avatar


    I was about to say good article, but then I got to the end and saw that you included Jenkins. That kid is the Myron Lewis of Dallas and has no business being brought up so often. If he wants to take a one year veteran minimum deal and try to prove himself, fine....but there are about 10 other free agent CBs that should have been listed over Jenkins.
  • avatar


    Good Article Mark, All I know is that we need to sign 2 CB's in Free Agency.
  • avatar

    DRC could be a great option if the scheme is a good fit. i think in philly he was asked to do things he was never asked before. Cox may be good, but I doubt Dom spends big on a jags corner who cant stay healthy when he just shipped out talib who also couldn't stay healthy. Grimes makes alot of sense, depending on who we get in the draft. would much rather get a big corner in FA to cover the #1wrs of today and draft a #2. grimes would likely cover the smaller receivers. jenkins doesn't play the run well. everybody knows that. Why is he even on this list? I like him personally, but idk if he would fit in well. Regarding smith, sources out of miami aren't sure if they will give him half of the 40 million plus he wants. no interceptions. gave up a ton of tds? if I want a big corner i can go get xavier rhodes from FSU for a 10th of what smith wants. Another great article by pewter report. stating the most obvious stuff. This isnt really anything new. I feel like we already heard this before. ahh the slow season
  • avatar

    If we could land Smith I would be happy...he's a beast at CB and durable unlike the majority of these other guys.
  • avatar


    Jenkins will be a Buc I think it just makes too much sense. Also I would like to see Sean Smith added. If we can sign Smith and Jenkins to play outside then draft a guy like Trufant in the 2nd then the secondary has been revamped and we can use the 1st round pick on the BPA.
  • avatar

    I'd take a look at Keenan Lewis from Pittsburgh also. That is unless the Steelers resign him before Free Agency opens.
  • avatar

    Keenan Lewis of Pittsburgh and Cary Williams of Baltimore are much more appealing than Mike Jenkins and DRC in my opinion. Also, Sam Shields of GB is a restricted free agent and could be worth it if he is not tendered at a 1st, although he probably will be. However, Green Bay does have some cap issues...
  • avatar

    Cox or Smith are the only two I want off that list. DRC is up in the air.
  • avatar


    Mark, I don't know a lot about Jenkins, but if he was a number 1 pick 4 years ago, and the Cowboys already got Carr and Claiborne to replace him, doesn't that suggest Jenkins isn't a top cb? Just curious if he's a target because he's better than our current cb corp, or if there is something there to make us believe he could be a top cb in the league? What happened to make the Cowboys get two cb's to replace him? Thanks.
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