The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from having one of the strongest groups of cornerbacks in the NFL in 2007 to one of the most uncertain units with the start of free agency in 2008 due to the departure of Brian Kelly and Sammy Davis. With Pro Bowl-caliber corner Ronde Barber scheduled to turn 33 in April and Phillip Buchanon entering the final year of his deal, cornerback has become a pressing need this offseason for Tampa Bay, which fielded the number one pass defense in the league last year.
The Bucs hope to address the cornerback position by signing Drayton Florence, a five-year veteran from San Diego, who could visit One Buccaneer Place later today, according to PewterReport.com. Tampa Bay was trying to get a visit scheduled on Friday morning.
Florence, 27, is a physical cornerback with good size (6-foot, 195 pounds) and sound tackling ability. He has 237 career tackles with 207 of them being solo stops. The Bucs gravitate towards cornerbacks who have a willingness to come up and support the run in zone defense.
Florence, who hails from Tuskegee, has recorded 10 interceptions in his five-year career, and broken up 38 passes. Last year, Florence picked off two passes and defended 10 more in addition to posting 61 tackles. His career high came in 2004 when he pilfered quarterbacks four time.
The hope is that Florence can continue to ascend under Bucs defensive backs guru Raheem Morris, who was named as Pewter Report’s Assistant Coach of the Year. With the cornerback market shallow in free agency with the franchise tag being doled out to Marcus Trufant and Nnamdi Asomugha, and Asante Samuel in line to make $10 million per year, there is a lot of interest in Florence around the league.
Tampa Bay is not expected to get into a bidding war for Florence’s services, though. The team does not mind paying top dollar, market value for a player, but has shown that they will not overpay for a player over the last few years of Bruce Allen’s tenure as general manager.
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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org