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Free Agent Shopping: Cornerbacks

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Al Harris #31 of the St. Louis Rams knocks away a pass at the goal line thrown to Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys at the Cowboy Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.
Al Harris #31 of the St. Louis Rams knocks away a pass at the goal line thrown to Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys at the Cowboy Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.

If there's two groups that all San Diego Chargers fans are currently worried about, it's the offensive line (with their lack of health and experience) and the cornerbacks (with their lack of depth). The offensive line may be fine, Tyronne Green and Jared Gaither have plenty of time to get healthy, but the Cornerbacks situation is fairly worrisome.

I was wondering why the team didn't do their annual tradition of signing a fringe veteran guy to play 4th or 5th CB, and the only thing that made sense is that the CB position has turned into the RB position. There are so many guys that have experience and can play well enough to be your 4th CB that you don't really need to keep one on the roster. If your 4th CB gets hurt, there will be 5 more just like him standing outside of Home Depot waiting for A.J. Smith to pull up in his pickup truck.

This was just a theory....until I looked at guys that are currently available. Free agents two weeks into training camp, and this is even weeks before the first roster cuts are slated to happen. I found a few guys that the Chargers might be interested in somewhere down the road.

Aaron Berry (Detroit Lions)

Last year, Mr. Berry played 411 snaps for the Lions and finished as the 24th best CB in the league according to He played nickel corner exclusively, racking up 30 tackles and 12 defended passes. Wouldn't be a bad option for a 4th or 5th CB on any team.

Phillip Buchanon (Washington Redskins)

Buchanon has been an on-and-off starter for 11 seasons, but even the Redskins gave up on him last year due to his penchant for missed assignments. There are seasons where Philip was close to be a Pro Bowler (I'm still amazed that he didn't make it in 2003), and his starting experience would make him a great choice to step in if Antoine Cason or Quentin Jammer were injured for a few weeks.

Andre Goodman (Denver Broncos)

Another guy that's been around for 10 years, but he has far more experience and success than Buchanon. He wasn't great last season, which is why he's been replaced by the Broncos, but he wasn't terrible either (he was a starter on one of the league's top defenses, after all). He's probably holding out for a starting job somewhere, so he's a long-shot, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve a call.

Al Harris (St. Louis Rams)

A long-time starter with the Packers, known as one of the league's top cover corners, has struggled since moving on from Denver. Last year he started the year off strong before tearing his ACL. At 37, that may be all she wrote for Mr. Harris. However, if he's looking for work and is healthy, you could do a lot worse.

Rod Hood (St. Louis Rams)

Another veteran of the league, kicking around for 8 seasons with 4 different teams, Rod Hood is a prototypical nickel CB. He's not going to play great coverage or intercept a ton of balls, but he'll play run support and won't be afraid to get in the middle of the field on crossing routes. Hood would work as a good backup to Marcus Gilchrist in the nickel role, if Marcus were to get injured or if he were bumped up due to an injured starter.

Chris Johnson (Oakland Raiders)

At one point, with Nnamdi Asomugha playing on the other side of the field, Johnson looked like a good starting CB. A big, physical guy, he collected 58 tackles, 3 interceptions and 18 defended passes in 2009 as the full-time starter. Every year since then he's been mostly a nickel CB that fills in when other guys are injured.

Bryant McFadden (Pittsburgh Steelers)

I like this guy a lot. He's started 36 games for the Steelers over the last 4 seasons, playing both RCB and LCB. He plays good run coverage and plays good enough pass coverage, despite a defense that doesn't do much to help corners besides try and kill the QB ("Safety help" is a phrase that doesn't really exist in that defense). At 30 years old, he has a few years left and tons of experience to rely on. I would welcome him as the team's 4th CB, but he's probably also waiting for a starting position somewhere.

Donald Strickland (New York Jets)

After playing well as the 4th CB for the Chargers in 2010, Strickland signed with the Jets in hopes of having more success. He finished the season with roughly the same amount of snaps and production with the Jets than he had with the Chargers, and the Jets haven't made it a priority to sign him back. He'd be a good fit back in San Diego, taking his old job back.

There you have it. Which of these fine candidates would you want the Chargers to go after to bolster the depth and experience in the defensive secondary?