Stanford Routt‘s release from the Oakland Raiders puts him in a unique position. Since he is a free agent due to a release rather than an expiring contract he gets to hit the market a month ahead of his peers.
Walter Football ranks Routt as the ninth best cornerback available this offseason and has this to say:
One of the most overrated players in the NFL, Stanford Routt is often discussed as a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback, but he definitely shouldn’t be. Routt has good coverage skills, but is often penalized. He was whistled for 17 infractions in 2011 alone (it easily could have been a lot more), which led all players at his position.
Stanford Routt has the combination of size and speed that suggests he could be an elite cornerback. Not many guys that stand 6′-1″ can run the 4.29 second 40-yard dash that Routt ran at the NFL combine in 2005. Routt hasn’t learned to rely on his physical gifts rather than resorting to committing penalties, as Walter Football notes in the blurb above. However, that doesn’t mean the Lions should overlook him. Eric Wright ranks as the number 30 cornerback on the market (includes restricted free agents) on the Walter Football list.
A number of teams have already been linked to Routt but the Lions aren’t one of them. It remains to be seen how much of a target he will be for the Lions this offseason but the nature of his early free agency makes him a prime player to watch. The market is usually set each offseason from the top up and while that may be true for the top corners in this class like Brandon Carr, an early signing by Routt will likely establish a target number for organizations negotiating with the second tier of players.
The Lions need to do something at cornerback and Stanford Routt represents the first opportunity to at least do some window shopping.