In my last post we discussed all the possible options at DT that the Panthers could target and sign in FA to help strengthen the D-line and ultimately make the Defense better as a unit. In this post we'll be taking a look at the possible FAs the Panthers could possibly target and sign at Corner-back. 2010 was a decent year for our secondary in which we saw good solid performances from both Sherrod Martin and Charles Godfrey at SS and FS, respectively, a decent beginning then a sudden and rapid decline for our 1st CB Chris Gamble, and as always a so-so performance by 2nd CB by Richard Marshall. Though we had the 11th ranked pass defense in the league, Marshall was essentially given his walking papers making CB a sudden 'need'. And even though it's not the most pressing need at the moment-Jordan Pugh seems like he can be a decent 2nd CB in time and Munnerlyn shows much promise-we still need to either draft someone with incredible potential and talent that can come in and instantly be able to contribute or sign someone in free agency to keep our pass defense solid. We'll take a look at the CBs the Panthers would benefit from signing after the jump.
Asomugha is the best shutdown corner in the NFL right now and would be an incredible hire for the Panthers' secondary. Though many fans see his low interception and tackle numbers year after year and question his ability, anyone who watches Raiders games(my father being a Raider fan I myself watch many of them) they seem to leave out that his side of the field is rarely ever thrown to. And if any QB is confident enough to do so, then more often than not they come away with heartbreak after an incredible interception by Asomugha. His best season came in 2006 when he totaled 50 combined tackles, 1 sack, 8 INTs(including a pick-6), 11 passes defended, and 1 forced fumble. After this season it's safe to say most QBs learned their lesson and almost completely stopped throwing his way. If the Panthers could somehow land Asomugha, his talent would definitely make a huge splash in free agency, and no doubt help propel our pass defense easily into the top five in the league.
Johnathan Joseph is the kind of elite, opportunistic, ball-hawking corner that the Panthers would definitely benefit from signing in free agency. Joseph sticks to his assignment like glue and rarely ever lets up on his targets. He's also a impressive tackler which makes him one of the best complete shut down corners in the league. His numbers in his short three year career are very impressive having totaled 274 combined tackles, 14 INTs, 3 pick-6's, 4 Defensive TDs, two forced fumbles, and a whopping 76 passes defended. I think the stats speak for themselves regarding Joseph's incredible talent. The only downside in trying to sign Joseph is that the only way we'd be able to obtain him is if we made a trade. Seeing as the Bengals have expressed the desire to place the franchise tag on him, and Joseph coming out and saying he wants to stay a Bengal our FO will have their work cut out for them if they do indeed intend to pursue Joseph in free agency.
Champ Bailey has been one of the better shut down corners in the last decade. Though he turns 33 this season, he hasn't lost a spring in his step and has shown that he can still compete with the leagues younger elite receivers sometimes completely eliminating them from the game. Bailey has spent twelve seasons with the Redskins and Broncos, respectively. But Bailey will always be remembered for his time as a member of the Denver Broncos. His career totals are quite impressive having a staggering 666 combined tackles, 3 sacks, 120 passes defended, 48 INTs(4 being pick 6's), and 6 forced fumbles. He may not coincide with the Panthers current youth movement, but if the Panthers don't see his age as a factor he'd be an awesome addition to our team instantly making our secondary one of the better ones in the league.
Carr just completed his third season in the NFL and is a very promising young CB with lots of talent. He was by no means the sole reason for the sudden resurgence of the Chiefs defense and surprise playoff birth in 2010, but he did play an integral part in it. He is only 25 and though you won't be wowed by his stats, Carr is one of the best #2 corners in the league and a leaps and bounds better than Richard Marshall. Carr has above average cover skills and decent tackling ability, both of which the current staff would appreciate. All in all a solid and promising free agent sign if the Panthers do take an interest in bringing in a CB through free agency.
Brent Grimes stepped up this season for the Falcons and become their #1 CB and helped them win the NFC South and secure the number 1 seed in the NFC. Though only his third season, he has shown vast improvements from his 1st and 2nd season in the league. He proved to be a very good cover corner and tallied 5 INTs this past season, though I wouldn't call him a shut down yet. Grimes is a very talented player who could come in and instantly become our 1st corner and help our pass defense crack the top ten in the league. And seeing as the Falcons have many important players to re-sign including: Harvey Dahl, Matt Bryant, Eric Weems, Tyson Clabo, Justin Blalock and many others, it makes it a lot easier to imagine us prying Grimes away from the falcons bagging us a very good corner and sticking it to our rival falcons at the same time!
Some other notable free agents that the Panther could go after:
Antonio Cromartie- Decent cover corner, but is said to play too soft against receivers. He is also a very poor tackler.
Chris Carr- Very good cover corner who really came through for the Ravens in 2010, but very unlikely that they let him walk in free agency.
Ike Taylor- Had a dismal 2009 campaign before pulling himself together and turning in a good 2010 performance. He only gave up one touchdown last season.
Josh Wilson- Another player who came through for the Ravens in 2010. More realistic for us to sign him than Carr, but again I doubt the Ravens would let either go.
Eric Wright- Has the physical talent, but is said to have regressed in each of his first three seasons in the NFL.
Fabian Washington- Can be a reliable starting corner, but has trouble staying healthy.
Well there you have my fellow Panther fans, which one of these guys would you want to have on our roster?