What About Sheldon Brown?February 15th, 2013
The Bucs need cornerbacks worse than Joe needs beers (plural) on a steamy Florida July Friday afternoon. There is no way to sugarcoat it or to be polite about it: Last year the Bucs cornerbacks — even with the Adderall twins in the lineup — were out-and-out disgraceful for an ACC team much less an NFL team.
It was simply revolting to watch that drek try to defend receivers with quarterbacks of the likes of Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Matty Ice, much less a third round pick of a rookie, Nick Foles throwing the ball.
So Bucs rock star general manager Mark Dominik will upgrade the cornerback stable this offseason — he just has to. Even he knows it.
Now the numbers crunchers over at ProFootballFocus.com also believe cornerback is the Bucs’ biggest need. As Dick Vitale would say, “Stevie Wonder could see that.” But the stat guys throw out an interesting name the Bucs should have an eye out for to help fix this crater in the Bucs’ roster, and that would be Cleveland cornerback Sheldon Brown.
If Biggers isn’t back next year, Tampa will need to find a corner who can shoulder the load of a full season’s worth of snaps as a starter. Enter Sheldon Brown (+8.0). A veteran corner on an underachieving Cleveland team, Brown held up well last year, allowing more than five catches just three times and conceding over 60 yards just twice. The Browns seem unlikely to resign him, and while he won’t be the most sought after corner on the market, he should be a nice stopgap if the Bucs plan to draft a corner in the coming years.
The knocks against Brown are few, but they are relevant. First and foremost, he will be 34 when the 2013 season starts, and aging corners who lose their speed and agility usually find the bench in a hurry. Also, the nine penalties Brown racked up last year are more than you’d like to see out of any player.
He won’t be out of his comfort zone though. Johnson played roughly three-quarters of his snaps at left cornerback and will likely stay there. Cleveland lined up Brown at right corner on basically the same proportion of his snaps, so the two should have little trouble manning the edges of the field.
On face value, this isn’t an awful suggestion until you get to Brown’s age. Signing a cornerback in his mid-30s is walking on razor-thin ice. For example, Brown is just three years younger than Ronde Barber, who was moved to safety last year to buy him another season or two.
Joe is pretty sure Dominik is going to draft two corners. If the Bucs were to sign Brown, Joe hopes it would be for no more than two years (with possibly an option for a third), as this would give one of the rookies Dominik drafts time to hone his craft in order to be ready to start when Brown departs.