As we continue to draw closer to the start of free agency and, ultimately, the NFL draft, it is important to consider that other teams will be vying for many of the same free agent and high-profile prospects as Jon Robinson and the Titans.
Here, let’s take a look at the teams with similar needs at cornerback. You can view the offensive list here.
While there are no truly desperate needs on the offensive side of the ball, the same cannot be said for the defense. Despite having two of the NFL’s top four elite edge rushers (according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats series measuring their average distance to the quarterback at the time of throw or sack) in Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan, the Titans pass defense was one of the NFL’s worst.
Thus, there is no greater need on the Titans roster heading into free agency and the draft than the cornerback position. Perrish Cox was so bad that he was released midseason. Jason McCourty will only continue to decline with age. Valentino Blake and Brice McCain performed admirably as depth players, but they are still only depth players.
LeShaun Sims can’t man the entire cornerback position on his own, and relying on him to be a starter anyway would be a risky proposition. Best to make him compete for the job by bringing in a number of talented new players.
Other Teams with Cornerback Needs...
Like the long list of teams needing wide receivers, the cornerback position is not much different. With the NFL’s recent shift to a more passing-dominant league, it’s becoming increasingly important for teams to have two or even three reliable cornerbacks.
Because the Titans will likely be adding multiple players, whether they be free agents, high-round picks, or developmental players, there is a long list of teams that could be competitors for signing or drafting the available cornerbacks.
Sports Illustrated thinks that cornerback is the top offseason need for the Seahawks. I’d expect them to be in the running for a Day 2 corner.
Draft picks: #26, #58, #90, #101 (projected), #171, #181 (projected), #212, #249. Estimated cap space: $27M
Green Bay’s corner situation is almost as dire as the Titans. With a late first round pick and the depth of the corner class, a first round CB could be in play. After releasing Sam Shields, they will likely pursue the position aggressively in free agency, as well.
Draft picks: #29, #61, #93, #132,#174, #184 (projected), #215, #252. Estimated cap space: $43M
Another team that will make a priority out of addressing the cornerback position is the Jets. With a strong front line, the Jets need only serviceable play from the back end, but they were unable to achieve even that in 2016.
Draft picks: #6, #38, #70, #141 (projected), #151, #192, #229. Estimated cap space: $-7M
In the “2017 offseason predictions for all 32 NFL teams” article on ESPN, The Ravens beat reporter Jamison Hensley predicted the Ravens would spend a first round pick on a cornerback. They may decrease the CB options that Titans have at pick 18.
Draft picks: #16, #48, #80, #102 (projected), #120, #161, #202, #239. Estimated cap space: $15M
Yet another team with first-round cornerback possibilities is the Philadelphia Eagles. They could also be aggressive in free agency assuming they make some cap-freeing roster moves.
Draft picks: #14, #44, #76, #116, #136 (projected), #157, #198, #235. Estimated cap space: $11.6M
According to various reports, Trumaine Johnson will not be returning to LA in 2017, making him the second high-profile cornerback to leave the team after Janoris Jenkins did so in 2016 (to great results with the Giants).
Draft picks: #37, #98 (projected), #109, #140 (projected), #150, #191, #219 (projected), #228. Estimated cap space: $39M
The Lions are a team that could be looking to add competition to the cornerback room on day two or three. They could challenge for some of the later-round prospects on the Titans’ radar.
Draft picks: #21, #53, #85, #125, #166, #207. Estimated cap space: $38M
Despite signing Sean Smith in free agency last year, cornerback is a frequent pick for the Raiders in early mock drafts. Even if they don’t use a first rounder, they will likely address the position at some point and could be free agency contenders with enough money to spend.
Draft picks: #24, #56, #88, #127, #169, #210, #247. Estimated cap space: $49M
The Chiefs have Marcus Peters, so cornerback won’t be at the top of their needs list. But they could try to sign a mid-tier free agent or spend a mid-round pick on someone the Titans like.
Draft picks: #27, #59, #91, #104 (projected), #130, #172, #180 (projected), #213, #222 (projected), #223 (projected), #250. Estimated cap space: $2M
The Cowboys’ big issues are on the defensive line and in the secondary. With Morris Claiborne probably departing in free agency, the Cowboys will likely bring in a player or two to compete with 2016 6th-rounder Anthony Brown. NFL.com says the Cowboys “could stand to find a starter at cornerback.”
Draft picks: #28, #60, #92, #131, #173, #214, #251. Estimated cap space: $-10M
Atlanta could use help at corner or safety, but it is not the biggest need for the Super Bowl runner-up. However, NFL.com said “more cover help in the secondary at either corner or safety” would “go a long way in shoring up the defense.”
Draft picks: #31, #63, #95, #134, #176, #217, #254. Estimated cap space: $29M
The Saints need help at virtually every position on defense. The Saints’ corners might be one of the few groups in the league worse than the Titans’ - B.W. Webb was picked up and started 7 games for them in 2016.
Draft picks: #11, #43, #75, #115, #156, #197, #234. Estimated cap space: $29M
According to NFL.com‘s list of needs, the Cardinals need to find another potential starter at the cornerback position. Patrick Peterson’s presence makes this a lesser priority.
Draft picks: #13, #45, #77, #117, #158, #179 (projected), #199, #236. Estimated cap space: $35M
The Bears need help all over the secondary. While it would be surprising to see them spend the number three pick on a corner, Matt Miller mocked Tre’Davious White to the Bears at pick 35, and they could be active in free agency, as well.
Draft picks: #3, #35, #67, #107, #148, #226. Estimated cap space: $59M.
The Niners need help at virtually every position on the roster. Even so, Joe Levitt of Bleacher Report wrote that cornerback was San Francisco’s top non-WR draft need, which could mean targeting a cornerback with their early 2nd round pick.
Draft picks: #2, #34, #66, #106, #139 (projected), #147, #162, #188, #206, #224, #225. Estimated cap space: $82M
Although Vontae Davis is still playing at a high level, he has battled his fair share of injuries, and the Colts could use help across from him. Sidney Jones is being talked about as a potential first-round option for the Colts. Apparently Chris Ballard played a big role in the drafting of Marcus Peters. Hopefully that was a lucky guess.
Draft picks: #15, #47, #79, #119, #144 (projected), #160, #201. Estimated cap space: $61M
What a devastating amount of teams! It almost neutralizes the aforementioned depth at cornerback in the upcoming free agent and draft classes. The Titans cannot afford to simply wait around and pick up the scraps. If there is a guy they like, whether it’s in free agency or the draft, they will have to be aggressive about getting him.
Stay tuned this week for a look at the Titans’ other defensive needs compared to the rest of the league...