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Detroit Lions Free Agency Preview: Cornerback Position Has Decent Mix of Familiar Faces

February 20th, 2014 at 1:43 PM
By Max DeMara

Football's free agency period opens just over a month from now on March 11, so until then, we're breaking down the players and positions that the Detroit Lions could be interested in.

If it's the offseason, chances are, the Detroit Lions are probably looking for help at cornerback on the free agent market. With a new regime in place, the challenge of fixing the defensive secondary matters once again.

'Patriots Training Camp (Foxborough, Massachusetts)' photo (c) 2013, md.faisalzaman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Many expect the team to add a draft pick, but might the Lions also add a veteran to help secure the position? If they choose to, here's 12 solid options that are set to hit the open market in another month.

The Top Five

1. Charles Tillman, Chicago. For the first time, Tillman will enter the free agent market this offseason, and seemed open to the idea of joining the Lions, as detailed before. He suffered through the 2013 season with plenty of injuries, but if healthy, Tillman could be a great addition, especially considering his penchant for snuffing out Calvin Johnson. As a veteran, Tillman brings experience in the NFC North and major big play ability on the back end.

2. Brent Grimes, Miami. Though Grimes had a slight down year with regards to interceptions with four, he still has 17 in his career and plays responsible defense. He seems to want out of Miami, and the Dolphins don't seem eager to sign him, meaning he should be available come March.

3. Aqib Talib, New England. Since going to New England, Talib's career has flourished and he has become one of the most solid cornerbacks in the game. Trouble followed him early in Tampa, but he has played well with the Patriots and could be paid as an elite corner.

4. Cory Graham, Baltimore. Graham might not be the biggest name set to become available, but he has experience with Teryl Austin, Detroit's new defensive coordinator, which might make him a natural fit for the Lions. He had four interceptions for the Ravens last season, and might be just the type of quiet impact player the Lions could add.

5. Sam Shields, Green Bay. If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, why wouldn't the Lions try to make a play for Shields, a cornerback who has frustrated them with the Packers? In three years in the league, Shields has 13 interceptions, which is an outstanding amount. He's also got size, which could be used to frustrate Aaron Rodgers, his current quarterback.

The Next Five

6. Antoine Cason, Arizona. Quietly, Cason has played well in Arizona, and in his career, he's snagged 14 interceptions, which is an outstanding total. Cason is probably in between the expensive options and cheaper options on the market, meaning he could be ideal for a team like the Lions who want to make a move in free agency and in the draft.

7. Captain Munnerlyn, Carolina. Though Munnerlyn is only 5'8, he plays the kind of tough coverage the Lions could covet under Austin, their new boss. Munnerlyn has developed nicely with the Panthers, but could be comfortable in Carolina given he played for South Carolina in college.

8. Tracy Porter, Oakland. The one time Super Bowl star with New Orleans has been lost in the shuffle since joining the Raiders, but his defense hasn't been any less desirable. If the Lions crave an elite defender who could come in a bit underrated, they might nab Porter and find a decent value.

9. Chris Crocker, Cincinnati. A veteran, Crocker would probably come very cheaply and would be able to fill in at times when needed. Crocker would be a good leader if the Lions choose to draft a young corner, and could provide the team with a cheaper option.

10. Quentin Jammer, Denver. If the Lions are interested in drafting a cornerback and keeping around a solid veteran, Jammer could be an excellent choice. He played with Denver this past season after spending the majority of his career in San Diego, and could fit the mold of a good cover corner with strong leadership skills.

Don't Sleep On…

Rashean Mathis, Detroit. In a limited role with the Lions last year, Mathis didn't play terribly, meaning the team could be motivated to bring him back on a cheap contract. Mathis wasn't completely a liability, so betting against a return, especially if the Lions want to go with more experience cheaper, would be a bad idea until it actually happens.

Walter Thurmond, Seattle. Considering his Seahawks won the Super Bowl, Detroit could poach Thurmond from the roster and try to get their own link. Thurmond fits the mold with size and youth, and could be an intriguing underrated option to add.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

Tags: Antoine Cason, Aqib Talib, Brent Grimes, Charles Tillman, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, NFL, Rashean Mathis, Sam Shields, Tracy Porter

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