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NFL free agency rumors: Chris Culliver market could heat up

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San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver quietly put together a strong 2014 season. Will it be enough to boost his chances in free agency?

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers secondary faces question marks this offseason, with both of the 2014 starters hitting free agency. Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox became the team's starting cornerbacks, and both are now hitting free agency. Cox had a strong start with four interceptions in the first half of the season, while Culliver had what I think most would agree was the better overall season start to finish.

Now it sounds like Chris Culliver might see his market heat up. Well, that's what "unnamed sources" would have us believe. Our good friend Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk is reporting buzz at the Combine is that he could be one of the more sought after free agent cornerbacks.

PFT ranked Culliver as the No. 45 overall free agent, and ranked him behind six cornerbacks: Byron Maxwell, Brandon Flowers, Kareem Jackson, Antonio Cromartie, Davon House and Tramon Williams. In his article, Florio said "the chatter suggests maybe he should be higher."

There are a couple things to take from this. Florio talked about all of Culliver's knuckle-headed behavior the last two years, and how that would seemingly hurt him in free agency in this new era of a supposedly more mindful NFL. And yet he still sells this as Cully potentially having a better market. As usual, I find myself wondering who Florio's sources are in all this. My guess is at least one of them is from Cully's camp. Florio lives off what agents feed him, with Drew Rosenhaus being one of the more notable examples.

Given the question marks surrounding Cully's legal status with the brass knuckles case with free agency rapidly approaching, it makes sense in my mind that an agent would want to put on a PR offensive. Culliver was inconsistent his first two seasons, but after returning from his torn ACL, 2014 featured his strongest season from start to finish. The market is there in that sense, but will it be enough to overcome the off-field stuff? Normally I'd say teams would look past the legal issue, but the NFL has changed a little bit over the last year. Teams might be more inclined to hold off for now. It will make for a fascinating start to free agency.