Polling Nation on Patriots' cornerback visits

The New England Patriots hosted a handful of free-agent cornerbacks on visits Tuesday, and ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters from their prior teams share insight.

Tarell Brown: He was a starter last year before he was injured in December and broke his foot. He was a good part of the 49ers’ defense in previous years. He is older, but he is a solid, if not spectacular player. However, the 49ers and Raiders decided not to pursue keeping him in free agency the past two years. I think he could fit in with the Patriots for the short term. Smart pro. -- Bill Williamson, Raiders reporter

Bradley Fletcher: Fletcher seemed to fall into one of those traps that ensnare cornerbacks, hockey goaltenders and relief pitchers in baseball. His confidence got shaken during the 2014 season and he never looked like the same player. The shaking probably happened in Green Bay, when Fletcher got burned for a 64-yard reception by Jordy Nelson early in the game. Nelson caught four passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the first half of that game. Fletcher wasn’t to blame for all of it, but he was on the hook for quite a bit of it. Fletcher’s worst game came against the Dallas Cowboys. Dez Bryant beat him for three touchdowns. Those plays were perfect examples of Fletcher’s lack of confidence. On each one, he had decent coverage. He was in sound position. But when the ball was in the air, he seemed to lose focus or certainty. At a casual glance, Fletcher appears to be running alongside Bryant making sure he catches the ball. But listening to defensive coordinator Bill Davis, you got the feeling Fletcher’s confidence comes and goes. When he has it, he makes plays on the ball. When he doesn’t, he looks lost trying to cover top receivers. But here’s the thing. Patrick Chung came to Philadelphia in 2013. He looked utterly lost before getting hurt and then getting released at the end of the season. Chung went back to the Patriots last year and played well for a Super Bowl champion. Cary Williams spent two years as a starting cornerback for the Eagles. When he was released, the Seattle Seahawks snapped him up. Based on that, the guess here is that Fletcher will be just fine if he gets into the right situation. Confidence – in himself, in his teammates, in the defensive scheme – means everything. -- Phil Sheridan, Eagles reporter

Robert McClain: He competed with Josh Wilson for the nickelback role going into last season and lost the battle to begin the year. He eventually was forced into a starting cornerback role opposite Desmond Trufant after Robert Alford went down with a season-ending wrist injury. McClain struggled in the starting role and got picked on some, but had his moments. Former Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan actually said McClain played with more confidence out on the corner then he did covering the slot as the nickelback. The Falcons see value in McClain as a special-teamer but they probably would want him back only at a low price. -- Vaughn McClure, Falcons reporter

Terence Newman: He was one of three corners the Bengals used in their regular starting rotation (Leon Hall and Adam Jones were the others) since his arrival from Dallas in 2012. Yes, he's 36 years old, but don't mention that to him. Age really is just a number to Newman. He told reporters here in Cincinnati earlier this offseason that he still felt like he could play. Back then, he was beginning to mull retirement for the first time in his career. Although he had a couple of comparatively minor injuries, he thought his body held up well by the end of this season. Thus, his decision to still play. Since the Bengals rarely have their corners shadow particular receivers, Newman was primarily called upon to cover one side of the field: the left. As the left boundary corner, he took on any receiver who came to that side, regardless of size or matchup. One of Newman's problems last season was his apparent knack for dropping interception chances. He broke up eight passes, but he could have turned three of them into interceptions had he just caught the balls. He didn't pick a pass off in 2014, but intercepted five passes in his Bengals career. So, why aren't the Bengals re-signing him? Quite simply because he's the odd man -- and yes, the old man, one could argue, too -- out. Cincinnati is trying to bring along young corners Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick, who both showed last year that they deserve bigger roles. It's time for them to shine. As a result, the Bengals are content with letting Newman go. -- Coley Harvey, Bengals reporter