I'm usually not the biggest fan of Scout.com's coverage on college recruiting, but the site's NFL Draft rankings are pretty spot on. To pass a bit of time on this Monday, be sure to check it out. It breaks down each player on a star basis.
Also, a few more nuggets. New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson spoke about the bounty system in his team under Gregg Williams: "I have been made aware of the NFL's findings relative to the "Bounty Rule" and how it relates to our club," he said. "I have offered and the NFL has received our full cooperation in their investigation. While the findings may be troubling, we look forward to putting this behind us and winning more championships in the future for our fans."
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' website broke down the very important CB free agent picture for Tampa Bay. With Ronde Barber pushing 40 and Aqib Talib having some issues, there are some potential solid players on the market:
It was no surprise that the Atlanta Falcons used their franchise tag on cornerback Brent Grimes, who surely would have been an attractive target for the Buccaneers (and other teams). In Tampa Bay's case, luring Grimes to Florida would have had the multiplying effect of removing a player from a division opponent who had been a thorn in its side.
Grimes would probably have been considered the top available cornerback had he been allowed to hit the market, though Finnegan and Carr could have made a competing case. Finnegan has publicly stated that he believes the Tennessee Titans will not try to bring him back, and many believe Carr will exit Kansas City after the Chiefs signed former Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt.
A Pro Bowler in 2008, Finnegan brings with him a particularly feisty attitude that might help a squad trying to develop on-field leadership, like the Buccaneers. He's filled up the stat lines in his six seasons, as well, with nearly 500 tackles to go with 14 interceptions, six sacks and three touchdowns. A fifth-round pick in 2008, Carr has steadily developed into one of Kansas City's best defenders and he seems to be picking at just the right time, with a career-high four interceptions in 2011. The Chiefs have made it clear they're still interested in Carr despite the acquisition of Routt, but they used their franchise tag on WR Dwayne Bowe, which at least gives Carr a chance to find out if any other teams are more interested. It's likely he'll like what he finds on the open market.
Carlos Rogers' timing is even better than Carr's. A former first-round pick by the Redskins, Rogers never established himself as a star-caliber player in Washington and he wasn't re-signed when his contract expired following the 2011 season. He got only a one-year deal from San Francisco but made the most of it, suddenly looking like the ball-hawking corner he was expected to be amid the 49ers' outstanding defense. Rogers racked up six interceptions, the same number he had from 2006-10 combined. One would imagine that he would want to stay in the place that helped him emerge so suddenly, but he definitely has increased his bargaining power.
Even without Grimes, and with Jacksonville's Rashean Mathis recently re-signing with the Jaguars, the depth of the cornerback position in free agency should be pretty good. Aaron Ross (Giants), Eric Wright (Lions), Tracy Porter (Saints) and Richard Marshall (Cardinals) have all established themselves as at least starting-caliber cornerbacks in the league and are likely to be available. The Giants may re-sign Terrell Thomas, who missed all of last year with a knee injury, but he would be an interesting and still-young target if he hits the market. And if shopping teams are looking for non-starters on other teams that might be able to step up in a new situation, there are the likes of William Gay, Dmitri Patterson and Tim Jennings to choose from.
There is no Asomugha-level cornerback to set free agency atwitter this year, but there very well could be several young players who can make an impact similar to Johnathan Joseph this past year. The cornerback section of the free agent market should be quite busy this offseason.