Free Agent Cornerbacks Who Can Start for Miami Dolphins in 2013
In today's NFL, teams need to pass well and defend the pass well. On their road to becoming contenders, the Dolphins will likely sign two starting receivers and two starting cornerbacks in free agency.
Brian Hartline will likely be one of those receivers but Sean Smith's chances of being one of the defensive backs is dwindling.
With the free agent signing period less than a month away, let's look at potential starting cornerbacks for Miami in 2013.
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6'3", 218 lbs
2012 Team: Miami Dolphins
The 2013 cornerback class is deep but lacks superstars. Smith is one of the better corners in free agency and his agent David Canter is trying to take advantage of this, demanding a contract offering $8-10 million per year, according to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald.
Smith is young, tall and an above average cover man but is not a playmaker, as evidenced by his five interceptions in his four NFL seasons coupled with no defensive touchdowns.
Jeff Ireland would love to re-sign Smith at half his asking price, $4-5 million a year. Miami can afford to let Smith go because there are so many available free agents who could take his place.
Ultimately, Smith will decide whether he'll be a Dolphin in 2013.
Forget Aqib Talib
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I will mention Aqib Talib because he is one of the top corners available, but Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland have zero interest in him because of his checkered past.
Talib was suspended for four games in 2012 for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs but his poor conduct in the NFL began immediately after being drafted 20th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008.
During the rookie symposium, Talib engaged in a physical altercation with teammate Cory Boyd.
During August 2009, Talib was charged with resisting arrest and battery after allegedly beating up a taxi driver. The prosecution settled for a pre-trial program after Talib made an undisclosed payment to the victim of his physical attack.
In March 2011, Talib was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, as he was accused of firing a gun with the intent of harming his sister's boyfriend. The charges were later dropped because of the credibility of the victim.
Talib is the antithesis of the type of player the Miami Dolphins want on their roster.
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5'10", 183 lbs
2012 Team: Atlanta Falcons
Grimes went undrafted in 2006 after playing in Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, a Division II school. He had a stint with the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe before making the Falcons roster in 2007.
In 2009, Grimes had 66 combined tackles and six interceptions. He followed that with 87 tackles and five interceptions while starting all 16 games for Atlanta in 2010.
In 2011, Grimes missed four regular season games because of a knee injury, and he only played one game in 2012 after tearing his Achilles tendon.
Grimes is a physical, instinctive player who has been slowed by injuries since his 2010 Pro Bowl season.
Adam Schefter believes that Grimes may sign a one-year contract to prove his worth and earn a big payday in 2014.
Would Miami gamble with a one-year deal for Grimes at around $4 million? Or a two-year deal similar to what Reggie Bush received in 2011?
The option is there.
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5'11", 178 lbs
2012 Team: Detroit Lions
Statistically, Houston has numbers similar to Sean Smith, despite being physically smaller. Houston's outlier is his 2011 season, in which he made five interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. He led the NFL in interception return yardage that year.
Houston is a respected leader in the Lions' locker room, as he was named Detroit's 2013 Defensive Player of the Year by his peers. Leadership is an important quality for Jeff Ireland.
The University of Arkansas product can be an option to replace Smith or complement him.
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6'1", 195 lbs
2012 Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Cox has made 12 interceptions in his first four seasons, despite only playing six games in 2011.
He has the size and skills to succeed in the NFL and, at only 26 years of age, Pro Football Focus considers Cox a "Secret Superstar."
Because he has played solely for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cox may be a free agent bargain.
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6'2", 182 lbs
2012 Team: Philadelphia Eagles
Rodgers-Cromartie has made 16 interceptions in his five NFL seasons and returned four for touchdowns. He is also a ball-hawk, defending 84 passes in the same time frame.
He has blazing speed (4.33 sec 40-yard dash) with height and length. Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes Rodgers-Cromartie can find a big contract in the open market and the Eagles may franchise him for more than $10 million.
If indeed there is a bidding war for Rodgers-Cromartie, the Dolphins will not be involved.
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6'1", 190 lbs
2012 Team: Baltimore Ravens
Williams is a Super Bowl champion and a South Florida native who played high school football at Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood, Florida.
He did not make an interception until 2012, his fifth NFL season. To be fair, he was not a starter until 2011, and that year he made 78 combined tackles and defended 18 passes.
In the 2012 regular season, he made 75 tackles and caught four interceptions.
The former seventh-rounder has come a long way in his career but may have lost his chance to be a Dolphin because of his behavior during the Super Bowl.
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6'1", 205 lbs
2012 Team: Carolina Panthers
Gamble is not a free agent but is expected to be released sometime before the free agency signing period begins because of Carolina's salary cap woes.
Gamble has been a steady performer for nine NFL seasons and can compete with any free-agent corner on the market in 2013.
He only played four games in the 2012 season due to a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Combine that with the fact that he is from South Florida (Dillard High School, Broward County) and you may have a solid starting corner at a discount.
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There are many more corners in free agency and more corners will be cut in the next few weeks. I only highlighted some of Miami's best options.
Nnamdi Asomugha will likely be cut but he wasn't worth mentioning. Here are his stats. If you have seen Asomugha play regularly, you understand he was tremendously overrated when he signed his last contract. He will also be 32 when the 2013 season kicks off.
The good news is that the Miami Dolphins will have plenty of free agent options to improve their pass defense in 2013.
Let's hope Jeff Ireland makes the right call.
Who do you think Miami's starting corners will be in 2013?