Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency and Trade Speculation: 10 Cornerback Targets

Randy JobstSenior Analyst IJuly 26, 2011

Philadelphia Eagles Free Agency and Trade Speculation: 10 Cornerback Targets

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    Asante Samuel needs a running mate opposite him at right corner like Pippen needed Jordan. The Eagles secondary struggled with the deep ball late in the season and it was always on the right side, not Asante's side. Ellis Hobbs was never healthy in 2010 and Dimitri Patterson was way over his head.

    Good news for the Eagles is that there is a plethora of talented cornerbacks available via free agency or as part of a trade involving Eagles' backup quarterback Kevin Kolb.

    The Eagles can go all out and spend the big bucks on a truly elite player in Nnamdi Asomugha or spend no more than a couple million on a young but up and coming corner in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

    Bottom line, it's a great year to need a cornerback, there is at least 10 players that would be considered a major upgrade over last year's starters.

Nnamdi Asomugha

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    Nnamdi Asomugha is the prize of the 2011 NFL Free Agency. Darrelle Reevis gets most of the attention when it comes to the league's best cover corner but Asomugha actually has put up better stats.

    Last season Asomugha was thrown at a grand total of 31 times in 14 games. He has only picked off two passes that past three seasons mainly because quarterbacks don't throw to his side.

    No one is more of a physical cornerback than Asomugha and no other defensive back is better at timing the snap at getting in the receivers face at the line of scrimmage. Asomugha physically dominates every wide out he is responsible for.

    Nnamdi won't come cheap, he reportedly is expecting a deal around $19 million a year for at least five years. Very few teams can afford Asomugha and the teams that can won't be able to do much else in free agency after they sign him.

    The Eagles havn't been linked much to Asomugha this off-season, but that doesn't mean they won't pursue him. They have other, cheaper options that can get the job done. If the Eagles sole priority during free agency is to get an elite corner than they will make sure Asomugha is in Philly by the end of this weekend. If the Eagles have other areas they want to upgrade during free agency, than they will let Asomugha sign a record deal elsewhere.

    Remember, the Eagles defense actually did a decent job of keeping the Packers receivers in check despite having a major liability in their secondary at right corner and a seventh round rookie at free safety in Kurt Coleman.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

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    They rumors and speculation that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be traded to Philadelphia as part of the Kevin Kolb deal with Arizona has really heated up in the past few days.

    Rodgers-Cromartie is the cheapest option that the Eagles are looking at to improve the right corner spot,but is also the most inexperienced and most inconsistent. He is also one of the tallest corner and the fastest corner as well.

    Rodgers-Cromartie isn't as physical of a corner as some of the others but has a similar game to Asante Samuel. He has picked off 13 passes in his first three seasons in the NFL and playing alongside Samuel for a couple years would greatly benefit him.

    The Eagles would benefit as Rodgers-Cromartie will make just over $2 million in the next two seasons combined. The money the Eagles would save by acquiring a cheap but up and coming corner like DRC could be used in go after key free agents like Charles Johnson, Plaxico Burress or Ray Edwards.

    It seems pretty likely that the Eagles will trade for Rodgers-Cromartie to address their need at corner, but we all know that the Eagles' front office is anything but predictable.

Ike Taylor

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    Other than Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Ike Taylor has been the corner linked to the Eagles the most. If the Eagles defense, under new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, switches to more of a zone defense Ike Taylor would make the most sense for Philly.

    Regardless of what the Eagles defensive scheme looks like, Taylor makes a ton of sense. Taylor is 31, which means he wouldn't be a long term answer but would be a nice short term solution until Trevard Lindley and Curtis Marsh are ready to take over as starting corners. Taylor has Superbowl experience and at 6'2 195, is a physical corner capable of taking on some of the bigger receivers in the NFC East like Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant.

    Pittsburgh is not going to give up Taylor without a fight. Losing Taylor would create a glaring hole in the secondary for the Steelers unless they are willing to spend good money in free agency on a replacement.

    The experience and physicality that Taylor would bring to Philly would be a great fit, but it is starting to look more likely that Pittsburgh will do whatever it takes to keep him in black and gold.

Carlos Rogers

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    Carlos Rogers is one of the most underrated cornerbacks on the open market. Rogers is a good press corner who gets overlooked mainly because he doesn't get a lot of interceptions.

    Rogers has stated that he would like to play for either Dallas or Philadelphia, saying he would love the opportunity to play Washington twice a year.

    Rogers will either be a great value or an awful one depending on how much money he is asking for in free agency. Rogers has already claimed he is the second best cornerback on the market, only behind Nnamdi Asomugha. Apparently he hasn't heard that Ike Taylor and Johnathan Joseph are free agents.

    Rogers is a slight possibility to land in Philadelphia if the Steelers are able to resign Ike Taylor and the Eagles decide not to trade for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

    I guess you could call Carlos Rogers Plan C or Plan D for Andy Reid and Howie Roseman.






Johnathan Joseph

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    Johnathan Joseph was one of the best corners coming off his stellar play in the 2009 season where he had six interceptions 20 passes defensed. In 2010 Joseph's numbers fell off, but so did anyone else in a Bengals uniform.

    The Bengals have already made Joseph their primary focus this off-season, while other cornerback needy teams like the Lions and Texans will make Joseph their Plan B if they can't sign Nnamdi Asomugha.

    The need for a player like Joseph is high while his actual value coming off a down year along with some injury concerns.

    The amount of money Joseph will get offered will probably be too high for the Eagles too match. Look for the Eagles to take a pass on Joseph this free agency.

Richard Marshall

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    Richard Marshall is another good young corner on the open market. Marshall is just 26 years old and still has room to grow as a player.

    Marshall makes a lot of good plays but struggles against the run and gave up a completion 75 percent of the time he was throw at in 2010. Marshall is starting to get a reputation as a mistake prone corner. A good defensive backs coach could fix a lot of his problems.

    There has been zero speculation surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles and Richard Marshall and for good reason. Marshall looked worse than Dimitri Patterson in 2010 as at least Patterson could play the run. The 49ers have been linked to Marshall and probably sign him to a deal.

Brent Grimes

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    Brent Grimes broke out in a big way in 2010, picking up five interceptions, 76 solo tackles and 23 pass defenses.

    Grimes is one of the best young corners in the NFL right now, entering his fifth season.

    Grimes will come at a pretty hefty price as he is a restricted free agent and will cost a first round draft pick along with a pretty stout contract to lure him away from Atlanta.

    Brent Grimes will be a free agent in 2012 and will command top dollar than, but as for 2011, I would be shocked if he wasn't an Atlanta Falcon.

Antonio Cromartie

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    Antonio Cromartie is another big time free agent that isn't getting the Johnathan Joseph or Nnamdi Asomugha, but he has the talent to warrant a long term deal.

    Cromartie is entering his sixth year in the league with 18 career interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. Despite having great size at 6'2, 210 pounds, Cromartie has been known for shying away from contact especially against the run.

    Cromartie also has a gigantic ego and can be a distraction at times. That alone will probably keep the Eagles from offering him any type of deal. Most likely Cromartie gets resigned by the New York Jets.

Josh Wilson

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    Josh Wilson is an unrestricted free agent of the Baltimore Ravens who is entering his fifth season in the league.

    Wilson doesn't have great size at 5'9, and has never started more than 12 games in a season. Wilson does have a ton of speed and has plenty of experience as a kick returner.

    Wilson probably doesn't generate much interest from the Philadelphia Eagles, as he is inexperienced and has too much competition in free agency to get a big offer from a Superbowl contender. Wilson likely signs as a number two corner somewhere else, most likely a team in rebuilding mode.

Eric Wright

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    Eric Wright was once a young and promising corner, but after a dismal 2010 campaign he looks to be on his way out in Cleveland.

    Wright's play may have dropped off considerably in 2010, but he still has plenty of potential and could be the steal of free agency.

    Wright won't command much money in free agency and could be a nice pickup if the Eagles decide to release Joselio Hanson. More than likely, Wright will get an offer for more playing time elsewhere but we all know Andy Reid likes go after guys that are low risk high reward type players.

    Wright coming off a bad year, won't get much in free agency but he has shown he has the ability to be a starting corner. The Eagles probably have enough young corners to groom with Trevard Lindley and Curtis Marsh, but it's worth thinking about.