Drayton Florence #29 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates as he runs in for a touchdown after intercepting a pass. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
The news of the day is that former San Diego Chargers Cornerback Drayton Florence has been released by the Buffalo Bills after spending the last three seasons there. With some question marks in the secondary, it would only make sense for the Chargers to have interest in bringing Florence back. Silver Fox confirms:
Bills released @DraytonFlorence. Chargers tried to extend 2x when he was here & then bring him back in 2009. They'll be interested again.— UTKevinAcee (@UTKevinAcee) May 4, 2012
A former 2nd round pick by San Diego, Drayton worked his way up the depth chart and was the starter opposite Quentin Jammer for about three seasons before losing that job to Antonio Cromartie. In his last game with the Chargers, Drayton intercepted Tom Brady in the AFC Championship but also gave the Patriots a crucial first down (after the Chargers stopped them on 4th and long) with a personal foul penalty.
That was four years ago. Drayton signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars for big money and the promise of a starting job and was released after one season. After playing well for two seasons, and making $3.3 million per year, Drayton re-signed for more money and more years and continued with a strong output in 2011. Unfortunately, the Bills are trying to get younger on defense and drafted two corners in the first four rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft, making Florence expendable and expensive by comparison.
There's plenty to like about Drayton Florence. He plays man well and is relatively big for a corner. He's pretty good at zone too, and has the hands to take advantage of mistakes made by Quarterbacks (17 interceptions in the last 8 seasons). My favorite thing about Florence, and some people have forgotten this, is just how good he is in run defense. The man knows how to lay the lumber. I point you towards this grainy YouTube video as evidence:
I'm pretty sure Kevin Jones still remembers that hit, if he didn't just blackout from it. My goodness.
Here's the bad news: Despite the Chargers' interest, Florence might be too good for them. It would be silly for them to bump Antoine Cason or Marcus Gilchrist down the depth chart for him, and that would also mean paying him starter's money. He'll look for a starting job somewhere else in the league and he'll probably find one.
For what it's worth, Florence was the 100th best CB according to ProFootballFocus.com's ratings for the 2011 season.
If nobody wants Florence as a starting CB, and he really enjoyed his time in San Diego, he would be a big step up from Shareece Wright as the 4th CB and would be more than capable to step into a starting job if Cason, Jammer or Gilchrist were to get injured. It would essentially make the San Diego secondary bulletproof.