Next up in our ongoing series of positional analyses is the cornerback position.
Barring injury, Cortland Finnegan and Nick Harper should continue to hold down the fort as the Tennessee Titans' starting CB tandem. After those two, the situation gets a little dicey, thanks in large part to the impending unrestricted free agent status of much of the team's depth at the position.
With free agency and eventually the draft looming on the horizon, let's take a look at where the Titans currently stand at corner.
What more can you say about Cortland Finnegan? The former 7th round CB from Samford had a breakthrough season in 2008 and as a result of his brilliant play, he was rewarded with what should be the first of many trips to the Pro Bowl.
Possessing the size of a chihuahua and the tenacity of a pitbull, Finny is living proof of the age-old axiom, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."
In 2009 and beyond, I expect the diminutive Finnegan to continue his development into one of the league's premier corners.
At the age of 34, Nick Harper's days as a starting CB may be nearing an end. He's still a solid performer but one has to wonder how much he has remaining in the old gas tank.
Nick should be penciled in as the team's starter in 2009 but considering his advancing age, don't be surprised if the Titans go CB early in this year's draft as they search for his eventual replacement.
The key free agents
A whopping 5 of the Titans' 14 unrestricted free agents just happen to play the CB position.
In addition to his role on special teams as the Titans' primary kick/punt returner, Chris Carr also contributed at CB. Filling in for an injured Nick Harper, Carr experienced his share of ups (the Jacksonville game) and downs (the Jets game).
As a result of his versatility, Carr is a valued member of the team and I'm hoping that the Titans can find a way to re-sign him.
Vince Fuller was once again solid as the team's nickelback last year. However, as an unrestricted free agent, Vince is seeking a bigger role, which may be hard to come by in Titan-land.
My guess is that either Carr or Fuller will be in a different uniform next year. Heck, I'll take it one step further by stating that of the two, Fuller is the most likely to be playing in another NFL city (possibly Detroit) in 2009.
If Carr or Fuller leaves, waiting in their wings is Eric King. A fractured arm ended his 2008 season but before that took place, King showed some positive signs in limited opportunities.
Eric's an unrestricted free agent but he could be in the catbird seat as the team's potential #1 NB if Fuller ventures elsewhere.
The lesser free agents
The remaining two Titan free agent corners are players who probably won't return in 2009.
Reynaldo Hill hasn't been a factor at cornerback since his rookie season, when the 7th round draft pick emerged as an unlikely contributor in 2005. Things have went downhill since then for Rey-Rey, as he's been reduced to playing exclusively on special teams the last couple of seasons.
Happy trails to you, Reynaldo.
Signed as veteran insurance late last year, the ancient Tyrone Poole is also a goner.
The rest of the bunch
Don't be shocked if Tuff Harris sticks around as a special-teamer. I love his nickname, but I'd cringe if he was forced into action as a corner.
2008 was a lost season for rookie Cary Williams, thanks to nagging injuries. At 6'1" and 185 lbs, he has intriguing size and could develop into a solid player in the years to come.
However, before he can make an impact on the field, Cary must find a way to avoid the training room next year.
Last and probably least is Tanard Davis, who has already been released by five teams(Colts, Saints, Rams, Eagles and Panthers) since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2006. Expect the Titans to become the sixth team to give Davis his walking papers by the end of training camp.
What are your thoughts about the Tennessee Titans' cornerbacks?