Free-agent scouting report: Titans CB Cortland Finnegan

Posted Feb. 26, 2012 @ 3:12 p.m.
Posted By Arthur Arkush

This is the 16th in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents on March 13, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.

News: In 2011, Finnegan provided a reminder of how good a football player he can be when he puts all his antics aside. Probably more known for his array of personal fouls, alleged dirty play, a fistfight with rival Texans WR Andre Johnson or his bizarre training-camp walkout last offseason to protest his contract status, Finnegan last season let his play on the field do the talking. And he produced his best campaign since he was voted to be an All-Pro in 2008. Still, it sounds like Finnegan's best behavior might have come a little too late for him to remain in Nashville. "I can't negotiate with myself," agent Terry Watson told The Tennessean recently. "The Titans are going to have to put some numbers in a counter proposal." The two sides have been far apart since Finnegan's departure from camp last August.

Notes: Finnegan, a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in 2008, was a seventh-round selection by the Titans in 2006. The Samford product has started 16 games four times in his career, registering 14 interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, and adding three forced fumbles. Although Finnegan has been a solid performer for the Titans, his most infamous moment came after the whistle in Week 11 of the 2010 season. Finnegan and Texans WR Andre Johnson were involved in a fight, with both players being ejected and fined $25,000. This is just one of several incidents that have built a reputation for Finnegan as a dirty player.

Positives: Finnegan plays fast and instinctively. He is a fearless, fully capable run defender who tackles soundly. Finnegan's physicality at the line allows him to jam and reroute receivers. He displayed the versatility this past season to line up as a nickel corner and be used as a blitzer, as well as in man and zone coverage. Finnegan has good ball skills and great toughness. His ability to agitate opposing wide receivers can be an advantage as well as a detriment. He was a tone setter for the defense last season.

Negatives: He is not a leader and oftentimes is more concerned about his own well-being than the rest of his team. Finnegan's temper and lack of poise at times can lead to silly penalties. He lacks fluidity in his hips and does not possess elite recovery speed. He sometimes can lose track of his man. He does not always play disciplined.

Risk factor: Is Finnegan the Boy Scout who appeared to turn over a new leaf last season, or a guy who was able to temper his emotions just long enough to earn a new deal? That is the question teams must ask before they prepare to court the talented but volatile Finnegan. He is a Pro Bowl-caliber talent who displayed poor leadership skills and communication skills prior to last season. Buyer beware.