As we all know, aging Tennessee Titans' cornerback Nick Harper is an unrestricted free agent who is not expected to return to Nashville in 2010. With Pro Bowl caliber CB Cortland Finnegan manning one of the starting spots, the Titans will be on the lookout for someone to play opposite of Finny.
With a rather thin class of free agent corners and according to many mock drafters, the need for the team to acquire a defensive end in the first round of the draft, who will be the Titans' other starting CB in 2010?
Barring the miracle of a new collective bargaining agreement being put in place prior to next month, the process of utilizing the free agency market to secure talent will be a little different this year. Due to the aforementioned circumstances, players with six years of experience and an expiring contract will be unrestricted free agents, with the rest of the free agent class being placed in the restricted free agency category.
A guy we're familiar with, Texans' CB Dunta Robinson, appears to be the head of the UFA class of corners. However, acquiring his services will likely come with a pretty hefty price tag. Leigh Bodden, who intercepted five passes for the Patriots in 2009, could be a cheaper alternative to Robinson. Of course, there's also Rod Hood, the guy who stepped up in Harper's absence but to the dismay of many, disappeared when Nick was back on the football field.
As for the restricted free agency candidates, Carlos Rogers is an interesting name. The current Washington Redskin is a former 2005 first rounder who is a great tackler and solid cover guy (however, don't expect him to catch the ball). Of course, getting a guy such as Rogers will require some type of draft pick compensation in return, which I'm not sure the Titans would be willing to give up.
Due to the less than appealing market of free agent cornerbacks, the Titans could always do the opposite of what everyone expects and select a CB instead of a DE in the first round of April's draft. This wouldn't be the first time Mike Reinfeldt and Co. fooled everyone with their first round selection, as evidenced by everyone screaming for a WR in 2008 only to have their hopes temporarily crushed with the selection of Chris Johnson. Of course, we all know how that decision worked out.
Florida's Joe Haden is perhaps the 2010 Draft's most talented corner, but he's likely to be gone when the Titans are on the clock at pick #16 or 17. Boise State's Kyle Wilson had a great Senior Bowl week and could emerge as a possibility. Other corners who could be in the running if the Titans were to shock the world and select a first round corner include Florida State's Patrick Robinson and Oklahoma State's Perrish Cox, who, despite a character issue or two, is an impressive talent.
With current Titans' youngsters Ryan Mouton and Jason McCourty not ready to assume the responsibility of being a starter, I'm expecting the starting cornerback opposite of Finny to be someone who currently isn't on the roster. It's just a matter of whether free agency or the draft will be the avenue the Titans will use to secure another starting CB.
Your turn, audience....Nick Harper's replacement: Name your desired player in the comments section below.