After being released earlier this month, one time starting cornerback Lito Sheppard finds himself on the open free agent market looking for a new home. Sheppard was one of the best cornerbacks in the league in 2006, so how have things changed so dramatically for him?
Two seasons ago, Sheppard was the pariah of the Philadelphia Eagle's locker room when he was leap-frogged by Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown for the starting cornerback positions on the defense. After finding little use for Sheppard, the Eagles traded the 28-year old two-time pro bowler to the New York Jets last offseason.
His first season in New York, Sheppard nabbed just one interception in ten games, while also recording 30 tackles and nine passes defensed - pedestrian numbers at best.
But if we know anything from this offseason, it's that Rex Ryan's castoffs - especially in the secondary - should not be judged. Newly acquired safety Kerry Rhodes couldn't grasp Ryan's defense and statistically had the worst season of his career in 2009. And after arriving in New York, Sheppard experienced one of the most forgettable seasons of his career.
It wasn't that long ago when Sheppard was a first team All-Pro, pro bowl selection. He's played in 103 career games and has recorded 19 career interceptions for three downs, 79 passes defensed, and 255 tackles. He'll be 29-years old when the 2010 season begins and has yet to find a new home, although the Lions and Bears were reportedly interested in him.
I've seen the idea tossed around ROTB a few times before so I thought I would too. Should the Cardinals consider Lito Sheppard? The Cardinals are in need of defensive back depth and signing a veteran like Sheppard would shore up a need on defense. Yes, he's a little small for cornerback(5'10, 194 lbs) but makes up for it with quickness and experience. And although he's struggled as of late, who's to say that he couldn't rejuvinate his career in Arizona?
The golden question though, is the asking price. The Cardinals won't spend more money on an older player who's currently on the down-slope of his career. The front office will need to evaluate their current options outside of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.Bryant McFadden struggled in the playoffs, Ralph Brown hasn't been re-signed, Michael Adams' size is a liability, and Greg Toler remains a question mark for now. How much money is too much for Sheppard? Should the Cardinals sign him?