It is pretty clear that most Tennessee Titans fans, and even more MCMers for that matter, want Alterraun Verner to be back next season. That much is up in the air.
What we can look at is how do the Titans best prepare for such a scenario, however unpleasant? With Wreh-Wilson going into only his second season after playing less than 100 snaps as a rookie, he is an unknown quantity thus far, hardly a reassuring player who is to be penciled in as the starter in 2014.
As for Coty Sensabugh, he is well suited to the nickel at this point, but could definitely warrant a shot at playing outside. I have qualms about it though, and it would no doubt be a big step down from Verner at this point. Coty struggled at times even in the nickel, so his performance doesn't quite merit a chance to take himself to the starting spot.
So where does that leave us? There is a pretty extensive list of FA corners this season, with a couple of high-priced guys leading the charge, Verner likely being one of them. Of the large list, here are some targets worth mentioning, some who would be options should the team feel comfortable putting Wreh-Wilson or Sensabaugh outside, some who would replace Verner in the lineup at the No.1 or 2 cornerback:
Walter Thurmond, SEA
Thurmond is coming off a Super Bowl season with the Seahawks, and was a great tool for Pete Carrol and Dan Quinn to have around when Brandon Brower was suspended indefinitely. Thurmond proved a strong corner with the versatility to play inside and out. He has been linked with a couple moves this offseason, notably with the Kansas City Chiefs. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com had this to say of Thurmond:
"He’s a great nickel back, but that might be a luxury the Seahawks can’t afford,"
While there are some concerns due to his marijuana suspension and a lack of snaps in a very-talented secondary, Thurmond represents a good option as a starting corner. It is unclear what kind of money it would take to bring him to Nashville, but my guess would be in the 3 million a year range.
Will Blackmon, JAX
Blackmon played well for the Jags last season, with injuries pushing him into the No.1 spot. He ended up playing over 500 snaps, recording 1 INT, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, and a TD to go along with 41 tackles. At 29 years old, he could prove a good player for at least a few more seasons. He made less than 750k last season in Jacksonville, so he would be great value for the Titans should they not wish to break the bank on a big money corner.
Richard Marshall, SD
Marshall has long been a Whisenhunt player, in both Arizona and San Diego. Marshall is a versatile player who can play both Corner and Safety, and played pretty well in the nickel in both former stops. Like Blackmon, Marshall would be an affordable stop-gap who has decent ability and some added insurance for two position groups.
Drayton Florence, CAR
The last of the nickel-back options I will bring to the table, Florence, despite being 33 years old, ranked as the 22nd best corner last season, playing in Carolina. He would be an interesting add due to his leadership and savvy veteran play that he could pass on to the younger players at the position. Due to his age, he would be little more than a stop-gap answer for a few seasons, but one who wouldn't be without merit. As he showed last season, he still has gas left in the tank.
Captain Munnerlyn, CAR
Another Carolina option, Munnerlyn would be a clear No.1 (or 2) in Tennessee. The 25 year old put it all together in 2013, with 3 sacks, 2 INTs (both for TDs) and 71 tackles, to go along with 12 passes defensed. He has expressed an open attitude to returning to Carolina on a one year deal "if the price is right", but seems poised to move on. He ranked an impressive 11th among NFL corners per PFF (one behind Jason McCourty). With his age and ability, he would be a great fit in Nashville.
Vontae Davis, IND
Davis is coming off a ridiculous season with the Colts. While he didn't garner much attention, Davis ranked as the 3rd corner in the NFL, excelling in press man coverage especially. While he has expressed his desire to stay in Indy, Webster would be pulling a coup to snatch him away. Davis has few flaws in his game at present. That said, he would command a salary of around 4 million a season if common rumors are to be believed. He made a hair over 2 million in 2013, but his play more than exceeded those numbers.
The other "big" names at corner are Charles Tillman, Brent Grimes, and Aquib Talib, all three whom I expect to fall well short of expectations wherever they end up. Grimes played well very this past season on a "prove it" contract, and he did that, but like Talib, I feel he is a prime candidate to get overpaid.
So should Verner pack up and leave for greener pastures, the Titans have a large pool to pick from. While the best scenario is for ATV to remain in place as is, it pays to be prepared, and that goes for us fans too. Brace yourselves ladies and gents, it's a long offseason.