Will Rams go after Verner to replace Finnegan?

2014-03-07T00:55:00Z 2014-03-11T11:41:34Z Will Rams go after Verner to replace Finnegan?By Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

With the pending release of Cortland Finnegan, the Rams are short on bodies and short on experience at the cornerback position. Finnegan's departure leaves Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, and Brandon McGee as the top three corners on the current roster.

How ironic would it be, then, if the Rams replaced one former Tennessee Titan (Finnegan) corner with another — namely, Alterraun Verner?

Finnegan was a mentor and booster of Verner when they were teammates at Tennnessee and sang his praises prior to the Rams-Titans game in St. Louis last Nov. 3.

Verner, 5-10, 187, has been a full-time starter in three of his four NFL seasons. He lacks elite speed, but is a smart, instinctive player, who plays with toughness. He made his first Pro Bowl last season when he intercepted five passes and had 22 pass breakups.

Verner was drafted in 2010, Jeff Fisher's last season in Tennessee. So there's obviously a familiarity there, not just with Fisher but with several former Titans assistants now on the Rams' staff.

And let's not forget Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who returned to the Titans last season s a senior defensive assistant following the completion of his "Bountygate" suspension. Williams even brought up Verner's name, unsolicited, during his introductory Rams press conference last month.

"It was fun to go back there (to Tennessee) and all of a sudden a guy that there wasn’t a lot of 'like' for — Alterraun Verner — when I walked in the building," Williams said. "He didn’t do too bad this year, did he? He made his first Pro Bowl and there was a lot of people that were wondering whether he would even make the team."

Verner won't come cheaply in free agency. He's widely regarded as one of the top free-agent cornerbacks in the market. Free agency is all about overpaying, but will Verner cost too much? Miami just re-signed Brent Grimes for a reported $32 million over four years, and Verner could be seeking something in the $8 million a year range as well.

Even with the strong Verner connections to the Rams' staff, are the Rams willing to pay that much for another Tennessee corner after going bust on Finnegan?

Follow Jim Thomas on twitter @jthom1

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