Fresh on the heels of reports that the Dallas Cowboys are interested in acquiring free agent Brandon Carr from Kansas City to upgrade the cornerback position come reports that the team is also interested in Cortland Finnegan of the Tennessee Titans.
It is starting to look like fixing the secondary is going to be the first priority for the Cowboys on March 13th when free agency opens.
The news comes as some of the performances at the NFL Combine seem certain to shake up things. Already, several names have joined the usual suspects of David DeCastro, Dre Kirkpatrick and Janoris Jenkins as players that readers here would like to see the Cowboys acquire with the number 14 pick in the draft. DT Dontari Poe, OLB Nick Perry, and OLB Andre Branch are just three of the prospects that have gotten people's attention in the past few days.
With the pool of attractive choices seeming to expand as the measurement numbers come out of Indianapolis, the possibility that the most clearly identified need for the Cowboys may be filled before the draft would seem to be nothing but good news.
More things to whet your appetite after the jump...
Signing a cornerback in free agency could be an indication the team is going to follow a strong 'best player available' strategy in the draft. The enemy of taking the BPA is always the issue of crying needs, and last season there seemed to be no need that called out louder than the porous secondary. If Dallas can sign a veteran cornerback that looks to offer a solution for at least a couple of seasons, then the coaches and staff can clear that from their heads and focus on who is objectively the top talent still on the board when that fourteenth pick comes around. This helps avoid the danger of reaching to get a position covered, hopefully leaving that to some of the teams ahead of Dallas, which will only strengthen the likelihood of a real stud coming to the Cowboys.
This also allows the team to avoid the possible issues that may come with a player like Janoris Jenkins. The questions about his off the field conduct can be evaded entirely if that need at cornerback is already filled.
The question now becomes which of the possible players is the best match. While the team might even pursue both of them, which would pretty much take the position out of play for the draft, it would seem more likely that they will want to sign one of them and use the remaining cap space to address other issues, such as signing their own free agents like Laurent Robinson or Anthony Spencer, or seeking a veteran center or guard. There are a variety of considerations in comparing these two candidates.
One plus they share is that both look to be available.
Both Carr and Finnegan are technically candidates for the franchise tag. But the Chiefs are expected to use their tag on Dwayne Bowe. A league source indicates the Titans and Finnegan have made virtually no progress in contract talks and Tennessee is not expect to use the tag.
Finnegan is 28, two years older than Carr. That does make him less likely to be a long-term solution, but structuring the contract properly can make that less of a risk. He certainly does have a good resume, having started all but three games in the past five years, and accumulating fourteen interceptions and 68 passes defended in his entire six year career, according to the stats at NFL.com. Those numbers are very similar to Carr's, who has not missed starting a game in his four years, and who has eight interceptions and 65 passes defended over the shorter span. Performance wise, these two are neck and neck, with Finnegan just not having quite as long an expected shelf life.
One other thing Finnegan brings to the table is a reputation for a nasty streak. Perhaps the most famous example of this is his well known fracas with Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson.
[HD] Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson Fight! (ALL CAMERA ANGLES)! (via gamecockscs9)
While some may feel a touch hesitant about him because of this, there is also the argument that a little flat-out nastiness is just what the Cowboys need.
Finnegan is regarded by many as a dirty player, but maybe that's not a bad thing if he ends up in Dallas, where all defenders are considered finesse players. He's excellent in man coverage, where the Cowboys got roasted last season, and he's an excellent tackler who provides great run support from the corner position.
Maybe it's my long term Kool Aid addiction, but I am having a hard time seeing any downside here. So what do you think? Any preferences?