Free-agent CBs who could still fill Saints' biggest need

Most of the top free-agent cornerbacks have already been snatched up even before free agency actually started (Byron Maxwell, Brandon Flowers and Kareem Jackson, per reports). But the cupboard isn't completely bare for the New Orleans Saints, who were likely to pursue someone in the second or third tier anyway -- a model that worked out brilliantly for them when they signed Keenan Lewis in 2013 and Jabari Greer in 2009.

Here's a look at what's still out there, with thoughts from ESPN NFL analysts Adam Caplan, Matt Williamson and KC Joyner:


Darrelle Revis: He'll be available if the New England Patriots release him by Tuesday afternoon before a big bonus is due. But the Saints likely won't be involved in the bidding war even if that happens.


Tramon Williams: The longtime Green Bay Packers standout turns 32 next week, so he doesn't fit that blueprint of guys like Lewis and Greer, who were just entering their primes when the Saints signed them. Still, I like the idea of New Orleans bringing in a proven, stabilizing force that their young secondary lacked last season.

The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder has only missed one game since 2007, and he has 22 interceptions since 2010, including the playoffs (second behind only Richard Sherman among active players). And as an added bonus, Williams is from the New Orleans area.

Williams could be in high demand, with the Seattle Seahawks among potential suitors. But Williamson, Joyner and Caplan all identified him among potential fits for the Saints -- with Williamson listing him first among all free-agent targets in this Insider pieceInsider.

Antonio Cromartie: Another 30-year-old who could bring that veteran stability, Cromartie was mentioned by both Caplan and Williamson. The 6-2, 210-pounder still has good speed for his size, and he had four interceptions including the playoffs with the Arizona Cardinals last season, while making his fourth Pro Bowl. However, he's also expected to be in demand, with the New York Jets among possible suitors.


Chris Culliver: The 26-year-old San Francisco 49ers starter could make big bucks now that he's among the most attractive young corners available on the open market. He has the size teams covet at 6-feet, 199 pounds, and he finally started to peak down the stretch last season after battling injuries (including a torn ACL) and inconsistency earlier in his career.

Buster Skrine: Caplan and Joyner both singled out Skrine as a possible match for the Saints among the second-tier corners. The 5-9, 185-pounder doesn't have the size teams covet. But he showed skills and toughness while working on the outside in 2014. He had four interceptions in 2014 and 49 pass defenses over the past four years.

"I think Buster Skrine would be a great second corner for them, a great mid-level signing,” said Caplan, who noted some teams see him as a nickel corner but others see him as a No. 2. "He's young, he can run, and he's real tough for a guy of his size. He's just not 6-1 or 6 feet.”

"Last year he allowed only 88 yards on 15 targets against Pittsburgh's passing attack and he was in man coverage on nine of those targets," Joyner pointed out. "Skrine also offers the benefit of versatility, as last year he posted 308 snaps as a slot cornerback, 635 as an outside cornerback, 109 as a strong safety and 10 as a free safety."

Davon House: The 25-year-old is one of the main reasons why the Packers might let Williams get away. The 6-1, 195-pounder has battled shoulder injuries, but when healthy he's shown the potential to be a standout starter. He had two interceptions and 20 pass defenses over the past two years.

Caplan said House has "big upside” and he's generating a lot of buzz in league circles -- but teams may have to take a leap of faith that he can handle a full-time role.

Perrish Cox: The 28-year-old finally had a breakout year when he was promoted to a starting role with the 49ers last season, with five interceptions, though he faded a bit down the stretch. The 6-foot, 190-pounder would be a nice upgrade for New Orleans at the No. 2 spot.

Shareece Wright: Caplan also mentioned the 27-year-old as a young player who has been improving after battling injuries. The 5-11, 182-pounder has just one career interception, but he had 18 pass defenses over the past two years.

Robert McClain: The Saints have reportedly shown interest in the 26-year-old part-time starter for the Atlanta Falcons. The 5-9, 195-pounder has battled some highs and lows, but two of his three career interceptions came against the Saints last season.

Other vets ages 27-30: Miami's Jimmy Wilson; Philadelphia's Cary Williams; New York Giants' Walter Thurmond; Oakland's Tarell Brown; Pittsburgh's Brice McCain; Philadelphia's Bradley Fletcher.

Aging veterans

The Saints have several choices if they want to bring in someone even older with one or two years left and a chance to provide some veteran experience. Detroit's Rashean Mathis, 34, was still playing great last season. Chicago's Charles Tillman, 34, started strong before suffering a triceps injury in 2014. Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor, 34, has started to decline quite a bit, but he's a New Orleans native whom Lewis has a ton of respect for. Cincinnati's Terence Newman, 36, was still a full-time starter last year and began his career in Dallas when Sean Payton and Jeff Ireland were there. Oakland's Carlos Rogers, 33, played under Dennis Allen for part of last season.