One by one, free-agent cornerbacks are signing with new teams, yet the Oakland Raiders – who desperately need help at the position – haven’t made a move.
Last season’s opening-game starters, Shawntae Spencer and Ronald Bartell, are gone and backup Joselio Hanson is a free agent. Michael Huff, who played both corner and safety, has been released. If the season started next week, the team would have to pick between the four cornerbacks remaining on the roster: Phillip Adams, Coye Francies, Brandian Ross and Taiwan Jones (the former running back who is switching to defense).
Meanwhile, the crop of free agents available continues to get smaller.
As AFC West blogger Bill Williamson of ESPN.com wrote this week, “The once-stout cornerback market is beginning to dry up.”
Williamson noted that all three AFC West opponents have dipped into free agency to improve at the position, with Denver signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kansas City signing Sean Smith and San Diego getting Derek Cox.
The Raiders have been talking with veteran Terence Newman, who was in Oakland recently for an interview, but so far no decision has been made. Williamson reports Newman is deciding whether to go to the Raiders or re-sign with the Bengals.
Newman, 34, has started 146 games since being a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2003 out of Kansas State. Last season Newman had two interceptions, 10 passes defensed and 75 tackles for Cincinnati. He played the previous nine seasons in Dallas. He has 34 career interceptions.
Cincinnati’s Adam Jones (the cornerback formerly known as Pacman), who recently re-signed with the team, believes Newman eventually will re-sign, also. Jones told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com that he’s “confident” Newman will remain a Bengal.
If so, where does that leave the Raiders?
They certainly could go for a cornerback with their first pick in the draft, the third overall, to snag Alabama’s Dee Milliner, the top-rated college prospect. But they likely need another corner. Among those still available: former Charger Quentin Jammer, former Raider (and Eagle) Nnamdi Asomugha, ex-Falcon Brent Grimes, the Vikings’ Antoine Winfield, DeAngelo Hall of the Redskins, Mike Jenkins of Dallas and Sheldon Brown of Cleveland.
Phillip Adams showed some good play-making abilities for the Raiders last season, and has been re-signed, but he has had injury problems. The Raiders need depth at the position, and Oakland no doubt will want to re-stock in free agency before the draft.
Andy Benoit, in writing for ESPN.com’s Insider recently, said cornerback is the Raiders’ No. 1 need. Benoit wrote, in fact, that upgrading at cornerback will allow head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to install more of the defensive scheme that Allen wants to use – but couldn’t in 2012 because of the players at the position.
“Restocking the position would allow … Dennis Allen to install the some 60 percent of his scheme that he’s still waiting to roll out,” Benoit wrote.
It’s possible, of course, that the Raiders believe Adams may be worthy of starting. Adams, who started three games, was re-signed to a one-year, $630,000 deal and made plays when he was on the field, but dealt with nagging injuries. Even if Adams were the starter, Oakland is too thin at corner.