It’s now two weeks into free agency and the Browns have yet to address one of the team’s top priorities—cornerback.
Other than Joe Haden, the Browns do not have a proven starting cornerback on their roster. They have added a couple of prospects in Chris Owens and Kevin Barnes through free agency.
Last year’s starter opposite of Haden was Sheldon Brown, who the Browns have not re-signed. Their third cornerback, Dimitri Patterson, was released late last season.
That leaves third-year player Buster Skrine and second-year players Trevin Wade and Johnson Bademosi as the players to compete with Owens and Barnes.
Sure, they’ve signed and Owens and Barnes, but both players would seem to be candidates to provide depth or be nickel and dime cornerbacks in the sub-packages. Barnes was for all practical purposes out of the league last year as he was released early in the season.
The Browns also have the second-most space under the salary cap with $28.7 million according to Pro Football Talk.
I think it’s time for the Browns to go get cornerback Brent Grimes from the Falcons.
The Browns had Grimes him in town a week ago and reportedly brought his family in with him in a private jet. He left Cleveland without a contract. Earlier this week, league sources said he was down to re-signing with the Falcons, the Dolphins or the Browns.
Sources close to the player say that Grimes is serious about the Browns and is taking his time trying to decide where to make his comeback. It also doesn’t hurt that the Browns brought his former teammate Owens in last week.
The Falcons have a reported $6.2 million under the cap, but that number is likely to be reduced with the signing of defensive end Osi Umenyiura on Wednesday.
The Dolphins have approximately $15 million left and are trying to replace Sean Smith. Clearly, the Browns have the upper hand in terms of cap space.
Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports reported Wednesday that the Dolphins are much in on Grimes and a deal could come soon.
Grimes, despite coming off a serious injury, is still considered one of the top players still available in free agency. He could immediately inserted as the starter opposite of Haden and the Browns wouldn’t be forced to draft a cornerback with their first pick or even make a trade to get a second-round pick to obtain a starting caliber cornerback.
Grimes (5-10, 183) went down in the season opener in 2012 with a torn Achilles tendon and was lost for the season. He is expected to be ready for the opening of training camp and is described as ’90 percent’ recovered in his rehab. If you want to take a peek at him doing his drills, including jumping up several steps at a time, look him up on YouTube.
* Grimes Pushing Sled
* Grimes Post Achilles Workout
* Grimes Jumping Hurdles
* Grimes Doing Box Jumps
* Grimes Jumping Steps
Grimes realistically was one of the best five cornerbacks in the NFL between the 2009 and 2011 seasons. He had 12 interceptions in those three years with 50 passes broken up. The Falcons thought so highly of him that they franchised him after the 2011 season.
The only potential down side in signing Grimes is he is coming off a major injury. He will also turn 30 on July 19. Many times cornerbacks start to regress early in their 30’s, even without suffering a major injury.
The 2013 NFL Draft is considered deep at cornerback with several players projected to go in the first three rounds among them being: Dee Milliner (Alabama), Xavier Rhoades (Fla. St.), Desmond Trufant (Washington), David Amerson (NC St.), Darius Slay (Miss. St.) and Johnthan Banks (Miss. St.).
The Browns first-round pick is the sixth-overall selection, but they currently don’t have a second-round pick as they selected Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft last July.
However, by waiting to address cornerback in the draft paints them into the proverbial ‘corner’.
The Browns have the money and if they don’t want to commit to a long-term deal they could roll the dice and sign him to a sizable one- year contract.
In the pass happy NFL, teams never can have enough good cornerbacks and currently the Browns have a major void there. If they go get Grimes, they can solve a big problem quickly.