According to a Pro Football Talk report, there is a chance coveted free-agent corner Alterraun Verner could be heading to the AFC East. Unfortunately if this did transpire, the potential landing spot would be with the Jets, not the Patriots. The Vikings and Rams, where Verner's former head coach Jeff Fisher now is, are the other teams mentioned.
Despite the definite need at the cornerback postion, the Patriots have not been linked to Verner to this point. Verner was ranked as the 4th best free-agent cornerback this off-season by Pro Football Focus, behind Brent Grimes, Aqib Talib, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, in that order.
According to PFF, last season quarterbacks posted a 55.8 passer rating when throwing in Verner's direction, the fourth best rating among all corners. Additionally, he finished second in league for passes defenses (14), and third in interceptions (5).
Verner was drafted in the 4th round of the 2010 draft out of UCLA by the Titans and will be hitting the market for the first time in his career. The Titans have invested major dollars in Jason McCourty and were unable to pony up the big bucks Verner is likely to command in free agency.
In four seasons, the 25 year old Verner has accumulated 288 tackles, 11 interceptions, 51 passes defensed, and 1 touchdown. But perhaps his most impressive statistic is that across those four seasons he has played in 64 games. In other words, he has played in every single game since joining the NFL.
That kind of consistency is rare in today's league, especially at the cornerback postion. As the Patriots appear to be somewhat interested in resigning Aqib Talib, it begs asking why they would invest big money in a player as injury prone as Talib (with off-field issues to boot), when a younger and more durable player could be there for a similar price tag.
Rumors of New England potentially trying to pry Darelle Revis (PFF's top rated corner from 2013) from the Buccaneers are to this point, just rumors. If that pipe dream were to ever become a reality, it would certainly be a gut shot for Rex Ryan and the Jets.
Conversely, it would undoubtedly sting from a Patriots perspective if New York is able to bolster their defensive backfield with a player like Verner.
Patriots fans are well versed in the organization's practice of only doing deals that are of "excellent value" to the team. Verner and the top-tier dollars he will command may not fit that construct. While this organizational approach can be frustrating at times; not over committing to individual players is one of many reasons why the team is in contention for a Super Bowl year in and year out.
But given the team's glaring issues in pass defense over the course of the past several years; Revis and Verner are the kinds of players that may be worth opening up the wallet for.