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Thread: Harper to Titans
Harper to Titans
By Len Pasquarelli
The Tennessee Titans on Tuesday evening added arguably the best cornerback remaining in the free-agent market, and provided themselves a much needed insurance policy against off-field problems that could keep Pacman Jones out of training camp, by signing unrestricted veteran Nick Harper.
The top cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts, Harper will leave the Super Bowl XLI champions for a three-year contract, the financial details of which were not available.
Indianapolis, which had already determined to go with younger players at cornerback in 2007, made little attempt to retain Harper despite his solid play. Harper met with Titans officials in recent days and, as it turned out, it was the only visit he made.
Tennessee targeted Harper almost from the beginning of the free-agent period, and the club quickly initiated contract negotiations after his visit. Harper joins Jones and talented youngster Reynaldo Hill as the Titans' top three cornerbacks. But given his off-field difficulties, there is speculation that Jones could be suspended for at least a portion of the 2007 season.
Harper, 32, was a player the Colts were always trying to replace, it seemed, but he consistently held off all challengers. An underappreciated defender, he was a very good fit for the Cover 2 scheme preferred by coach Tony Dungy because of his aggressive play versus the run.
But the six-year veteran is also a better player in coverage than many people think, and he often drew the assignment of lining up against the opposition's top wide receiver.
The former Fort Valley (Ga.) State star began his professional career in the CFL in 2000, then signed with the Colts as a free agent in 2001. He appeared in 89 games, 60 of them as a starter, and had 396 tackles, 15 interceptions, 42 passes defensed, one forced fumble and three recoveries.
In 2006, Harper had 75 tackles, three interceptions and six passes defensed as the Colts captured the Super Bowl XLI title.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.