Free agent spotlight: Defensive backs

Sixth in a series looking the players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents Tuesday, although the following information does not reflect who the Seahawks might be targeting:

Position: Cornerbacks and safeties

Leader of the pack: CB Courtland Finnegan, Titans

What he’s done: A Pro Bowl selection in 2008, the former seventh-round draft choice from Samford has 14 interceptions in his six-season career, including five each in ’08 and 2009. He also had 100 tackles in 2010.

Where he ranks: No. 11 on Pro Football Weekly’s list of Top 100 free agents.

What they’re saying: “Finnegan is one of the league’s better players at a position that has become exceedingly valuable with passing on the increase and the stellar play of quarterbacks one of the defining traits of the 2011 season. He is instinctive, competitive and tough, will not back down from opponents and is capable of shutting down quality receivers when he’s at his best. He will be very much in demand if Tennessee allows him to test the market.” – Pro Football Weekly

Other options: Chiefs CB Brandon Carr, has intercepted eight passes and defended 65 in his four seasons; 49ers CB Carlos Rogers, had a career-high six interceptions in his first season in San Francisco; Redskins S LaRon Landry, used at strong and free safety, but he played in only 17 games the past two seasons because of an Achilles injury; Lions CB Eric Wright, played well in his first season in Detroit but consistency remains an issue; Giants CB Aaron Ross, two-time Super Bowl champion; Cardinals CB Richard Marshall, has experience (55 starts) and versatility (starts at cornerback and safety); Saints CB Tracy Porter, has 39 career starts and he’s only 26; Bengals FS Reggie Nelson, former first-round pick by the Jaguars has jumpstarted his career in Cincy; Giants CB Terrell Thomas, missed the 2011 season with a knee injury but had 10 interceptions in 2009-10. Falcons CB Brent Grimes, 49ers S Dashon Goldson, Titans S Michael Griffin and Raiders S Tyvon Branch were given franchise tags; and Falcons S Thomas DeCoud signed a multiyear contract this week.

Seahawks own free agents: S Atari Bigby.

Numbers to know: In his first NFL season, former All-CFL cornerback Brandon Browner broke club records for interception return yards (220) and longest return (94 yards); led the team with six interceptions, including picks in four consecutive games to tie a club record; and played in the Pro Bowl. In 2011, the defensive backs had 17 of the team’s 22 interceptions – 10 more than the Seahawks had in 2010 and their most since picking off 23 in 2004. The starters who finished the season in the secondary – Browner, cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor – had 16 NFL starts between them entering the season, and all belonged to Thomas. But Thomas and Chancellor joined Browner in the Pro Bowl and Sherman was voted to the all-rookie team.

Says coach Pete Carroll: “The secondary group is very competitive. … We think we’ve got good competitiveness coming in those spots, but we’d still like to add another guy.”


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