ESPN analyst Bill Polian earned a reputation as one of the NFL’s finest general managers. He oversaw the Buffalo Bills teams who lost four consecutive Super Bowls. After he was fired in 1993, Polian became general manager of a Carolina Panthers team who, in just its second season, went to the NFC Championship Game. He went on to have a 14-year career as the mastermind of the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts teams who haunted the Tennessee Titans for much of the 2000s.
What does Polian think about soon-to-be free agent Alterraun Verner? Analysts expect the 25-year-old cornerback to cash in on a career-best season that included his first Pro Bowl appearance. Verner is expected to make anywhere within the range of what 2013 Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes or teammate Jason McCourty made: around $8-9 million per season. A desperate team may go higher.
Polian and his scouting team evaluated Verner. According to ESPN blogger and local sports talk personality Paul Kuharsky, Polian graded Verner as a B-minus. Those grades include elite production with neutral speed, injury and character. A ‘B’ grade translates to $2-6 million per season with no more than two years of guaranteed money. You can read more about Polian’s analysis at Kuharsky’s column, HERE.
Most educational systems consider a ‘B’ grade as ‘good.’ Basically, Polian scouts Verner as a player who’s slightly less than good but better than average (‘C’). He considers Tarell Brown, Tracy Porter and Aqib Talib as better cornerbacks with higher grades.
Could the Titans’ front office view him in the same light? Remember that just this past preseason, Verner was in danger of losing his starting job to Tommie Campbell. Had Campbell not completely flopped, Verner may have been demoted to nickelback. Was one Pro Bowl season enough to convince management that he’s anything more than a B-minus player?
Poor Verner. Even mean ole’ Triple H gave Daniel Bryan a B-plus grade. Verner has to compete for his starting job with a seventh-round project and then he gets a B-minus following a Pro Bowl season.
One can hope that more general managers view him the same way. If Verner is viewed as the fourth-best cornerback in this free-agent class and less than a good player, then maybe he comes back on the cheaper side of $8 million per year. A congested free-agent market of cornerbacks could help keep the price down a bit.
ESPN (Paul Kuharsky)