Well, so much for that. The St. Louis Rams were widely considered a favorite destination for Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Not anymore. According to Jason LaCanfora, the Titans will apply the franchise tag to keep Finnegan for 2012.
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It was also reported this morning that the Falcons will use the tag on cornerback Brent Grimes, taking two of the biggest names off the free agent market.
What will the Rams do now?
The Finnegan news is a bit of a shock. For weeks, the Nashville press reported that the Titans would not use the $10 million or so in cap space to franchise Finnegan.
Why the last minute change? Easy, good cornerbacks are hard to find, and Finnegan is one of the best.
Without Finnegan on the market, the Rams free agent priorities change significantly. Eric Wright, mentioned earlier, could be an inexpensive, upside option that they might not have to count on as a starter.
Brandon Carr, unless he is tagged or re-signed by Kansas City, will be the cadillac option in free agency, commanding big money. Some second-tier options include Carlos Rogers, Tracy Porter (who defensive coordinator Gregg Williams knows well from his time in New Orleans) and Richard Marshall.
Keeping Bartell may also be an option now. Of course, it makes the Morris Claiborne pick in the 2012 NFL Draft much more attractive for the Rams.