Friday, May 4, 2012
Drayton Florence in the NFC South?
By Pat Yasinskas
Lots of readers in our NFC South chat were asking about the possibility of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being interested in cornerback Drayton Florence, who was released by the Buffalo Bills on Friday.
General manager Mark Dominik isn’t going to tip his hand on interest in any free agent, but I think it’s at least worth keeping an eye to see if the Bucs do show interest. Bringing in 31-year-old cornerbacks doesn’t exactly fit with what the Bucs are doing these days, so I'd call this a long shot. But I wouldn’t completely rule it out.
Drayton’s a smart and experienced player and his production didn’t slide in Buffalo. He was released simply because the Bills wanted to get younger at the position and they just drafted Stephon Gilmore.
The reason I think there’s at least a chance the Bucs show interest in Florence is because they have some uncertainty at cornerback. Aqib Talib is awaiting trial on an assault charge in Texas and he could face prison time or an NFL suspension. The Bucs also have talked about moving veteran cornerback Ronde Barber to safety. The possibility of that move seemed to diminish when the Bucs drafted safety Mark Barron in the first round, but it still is possible the Bucs could use Barber at safety.
Aside from Talib and Barber, the Bucs have Eric Wright, whom they signed as a free agent. After that, they have guys such as E.J. Biggers, Myron Lewis and Anthony Gaitor, who haven’t shown real strong signs they’re ready to start. The Bucs did draft West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy, but it likely will take some time for him to develop.
If the Bucs decide they need a quick fix -- and, again, that’s not really what they’re all about -- then Florence could be a possibility, if he comes at the right price.
But the Bucs aren’t the only NFC South team that possibly could have interest in Florence. You can scratch the Falcons off the list because they just traded for Asante Samuel. But Carolina and New Orleans could be possibilities. Aside from Chris Gamble, the Panthers aren’t loaded with talent at cornerback.
The Saints, who have shown more willingness to bring in older players than any other NFC South team, are set with Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson as their starters. Johnny Patrick appears likely to step into the nickelback role, but the Saints have brought in older players in front of younger players before. New Orleans doesn’t have a great salary-cap situation, but Florence shouldn’t command a huge salary.