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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs looking closely at cornerback position

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:45 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Greg Schiano share a lot of the same philosophies. One is a belief you can never have enough cornerbacks, which is why Dominik plans to focus intently on that position during free agency.

"That is certainly something we have to look into, yeah,'' Dominik said from the NFL Scouting Combine. "And I say that not having any clue of who may actually make it to the market.

"But it's a position that I've talked about in the past and that Coach Schiano shares the same beliefs about, so it would be ignorant for me to think (the cornerback position) is not important to us.''

One of the most important positions to the Bucs also is in danger this offseason of becoming one of their thinnest, with the potential loss of starting corners Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib.

Barber, 36, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 13 and is also contemplating retirement. Talib, who faces a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Texas, has a trial scheduled for March 26 and faces possible jail time or a league suspension.

The Bucs have plans to meet with Barber and discuss his future with the team either later this week or early next week, and Dominik said he and Schiano share a willingness to retain Talib.

The Bucs, though, have to prepare for the worst, Dominik said, particularly in the case of Talib, whose trial takes place after the start of the free-agency signing period.

That means preparing for the possibility of having to replace both players, and already reports are suggesting the Bucs could target Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan should he reach the free agency market.

The Bucs are sure to target other potential free agent cornerbacks, as well, and it is a virtual certainty they will spend at least one draft pick on a cornerback later this spring.

Schiano's decision to hire former LSU secondary coach Ron Cooper in the same capacity has sparked speculation the Bucs could spend their first pick, the fifth overall, on LSU corner Morris Claiborne.

Before the Bucs do that, though, Dominik wants to find out what Cooper thinks of some of the holdovers the Bucs already have at the position such as E.J. Biggers, Myron Lewis and Antony Gaitor.

That could be a bit tricky. The Bucs coaches aren't allowed to start working with players on the field until April 2, but Dominik said Cooper can still make evaluations in a way that determines the Bucs path for free agency.

"Although the coaches can't work out on the grass with them (until April), they can watch them work out and they can see the strengths that they have and things like that,'' Dominik said.


rcummings@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7979

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