As the 2006 season began, the Browns felt they were in fine shape at the cornerback position. They started the season with veterans Gary Baxter and Daylon McCutcheon working with up-and-comer Leigh Bodden.
A year later, things look quite different.
Daylon McCutcheon, one of only two players remaining from the Browns 1999 expansion franchise, was released on Friday after failing his team physical, likely due to slow recuperation from micro-fracture surgery in 2006. Baxter, meanwhile, tore patellar tendons in both knees during game action last season, a devastating injury which threatens his NFL career.
The Browns now find themselves left with Leigh Bodden and a several young cornerbacks with uncertain potential. Devan Holly showed promise under the tutelage of Browns DB coach Mel Tucker, and the team will finally see what 2006 fourth-round choice DeMario Minter can bring to the field. While the progress of both will be charted closely this Summer, the Browns are still looking at a problem spot on their roster opposite Bodden.
The cornerback situation wasn't helped earlier today when CB Roderick Hood, the team's second-choice on the free agent market, signed a five-year, $15 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Hood visited the Browns shortly after the start of free agency, but left the next day to visit the Cardinals. After visits with the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants, Hood elected to take the offer from Arizona.
Hood, however, was anything but a sure-fire bet for the Browns or any other NFL team. He has started 16 games over the last two seasons and isn't guaranteed a starting job for the Cardinals.
The Browns have signed CB Kenny Wright, a journeyman who is unlikely to compete for a starting role.
A glance at Scout's free agency tracker, however, reveals that several capable cornerbacks remain on the market. Stay tuned...