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Raiders’ Free Agency needs: Cornerback

2012 Free Agency begins next Tuesday, March 13th at 4pm.  The first in a series of looks at positions the Raiders may target.

2011 starters: Stanford Routt and varied

Offseason Moves so far:
cut Stanford Routt
signed Brandon Underwood

On the Roster:
Chimdi Chekwa
DeMarcus Van Dyke
Brandon Underwood
Chris Johnson

Practice Squad:
Terrail Lambert – signed to reserve/future contract 1/3/2012

Restricted Free Agents: None

Unrestricted Free Agents:
Bryan McCann
Lito Sheppard

Projected 2012 Starters: Chimdi Chekwa? Michael Huff? Nothing set at this time

The Raiders currently have only 4 players under contract for the 2012 season that are designated as CB – excluding Terrail Lambert who is likely a practice squad player, if anything.  The team also may move FS Michael Huff over to play corner as he has some experience with the position.

Chris Johnson is on contract next season for $3.5 million, which likely either makes him a cut or a restructure depending on how much the new leadership likes him.  He isn’t expected to be back for the $3.5 million he’s contracted to make, certainly.

Obviously this, then, counts as one of the highest if not the highest position of need for the team.  The Raiders will be in the market for at least one veteran CB to come in and compete.

Initially, many beat writers and fans looked at the connection of new coach Dennis Allen and free agent CB Tracy Porter from their time together in New Orleans.  However, with the new allegations that many of the Saints defenders had bounties on knocking players out, this may not be a good idea.

I can’t decide if the bounties story will help or hurt the chances for Porter.  It makes sense that the Raiders would be wary of signing Porter because he may face a suspension in the future.  However, other teams will also be potentially wary and that may drop his price and if the Raiders like Porter a small suspension in one of the years of the contract shouldn’t be too much a concern.  So, I’m leaning towards the Raiders still potentially pursuing Porter, assuming that Allen likes him.

Porter isn’t the best CB on the market – that designation is likely given to either Titans CB Cortland Finnegan or Chiefs CB Brandon Carr, depending on who you talk to.  The next biggest name on the market is Niners’ CB Carlos Rogers.

Best of the rest: Terrell Thomas of the Giants was a starter, but he seems likely to re-sign with New York at this point as the interest is there on both sides.  Chris Carr of the Ravens is a possible Raiders prospect.  He played with the team from 2005-2011 before a year in TN and three in Baltimore.  He could provide depth for the team and has played in both starter and backup roles.

The Raiders may also look to one of their veterans that is going to be a free agent or restructure Chris Johnson for depth and look towards the draft.

On the roster already, both Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke showed promise last year and both could push for a starting spot.  Of the two, Chekwa looked the most polished in training camp but injuries set him back throughout the year.  Brandon Underwood is an unknown but he was cut from Green Bay so that doesn’t bode well for his starting chances.

Who do you want the Raiders to sign, if anyone, this free agency period?

Ask me questions or tell me what you think on Twitter @AsherMathews