Posted: Wednesday March 2, 2005 8:27PM; Updated: Wednesday March 2, 2005 8:57PM
Duane Starks has 25 career interceptions, but just five with the Cardinals.
Harry How/Getty Images
By Peter King, SI.com
The New England Patriots are on the verge of trading for a high-profile cornerback to replace veteran Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law. The agent for veteran Arizona cornerback Duane Starks said Wednesday night there could be announcement on a deal and a new contract for Starks with the Patriots by Thursday.
"We're still discussing a few things,'' agent Drew Rosenhaus said. "But we're very close. It will be a great fit for Duane, and it will be a great fit for New England.''
Notice the words Rosenhaus used: "it will,'' not "it might.'' Other pro football sources said the deal, the parameters of which were first reported earlier Wednesday by the Web site profootballtalk.com, is so close it could be announced early Thursday.
Rosenhaus said it was his understanding that the compensation for Starks would be a third-round Patriots' pick in April's draft. Another source said there likely would be an additional swap of draft picks to give Arizona a higher pick in one additional draft round.
Starks, 30, is a 5-10, 174-pound cover corner who'd fallen out of favor with Arizona coach Dennis Green. Since signing a five-year, $23-million deal with the Cards prior to the 2002 season, Starks was plagued by injuries, and Green reportedly didn't think Starks could be counted on to stay healthy for a full season.
The deal is a gamble for New England because Starks hasn't been durable. But it's a deal the Super Bowl champs are obviously willing to make after scotch-taping their cornerback rotation together all last season.
Starks isn't a very physical player, and the Patriots require their cornerbacks to be strong run-support players. And he's been hurt each of the past three years. Groin, knee and leg injuries caused him to miss six games in 2002. He suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game against Chicago in August 2003, causing him to miss that year. And he was plagued by a dislocated shoulder last year, reducing his effectiveness drastically.
This would be the second year in a row New England takes a chance on a risky player who'd gotten into another team's doghouse. Last year, the Patriots traded a second-round pick to Cincinnati for running back Corey Dillon, who set a New England rushing record and helped the Patriots win their third Super Bowl title in four years.
Starks was the 10th overall pick in the 1998 draft, by Baltimore. He was the second corner taken that year, behind Charles Woodson by the Raiders. He played four seasons with the Ravens, returning an interception 49 yards for a touchdown in the 34-7 Super Bowl win over the Giants following the 2000 season. For his six-year career, he has 25 interceptions.
New England, if it acquired Starks, would likely enter the 2005 season with a solid corner group of Starks, Tyrone Poole and third-year player Asante Samuel. This would allow former college corner Eugene Wilson to stay at free safety, where he's become a very good young player alongside veteran Pro Bowler Rodney Harrison.
Starks was due to make $3.6 million in 2005 and 2006, the final two years of his Arizona contract. Rosenhaus and the Patriots were working out the final details on what they hoped would be a new contract for more than the two years he has left.