With the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league, the cornerback position is also becoming more and more crucial. Not every team has a Joe Haden, Darrell Revis, or Richard Sherman.
Our Dallas Cowboys are dealing with a bit of a conundrum at the position. Orlando Scandrick was drafted in the 5th round back in 2008. He fought for the starting job, kept it, and earned himself a well deserved contract and pro bowl appearances. Tyler Patmon went undrafted in 2014, showed his talent in training camp, and beat out B.W. Webb for a roster spot. If we could have another Scandrick and Patmon we would be strong at the position, but we currently have a Carr and a Claiborne.
Brandon Carr was a big free agency acquisition for the Cowboys in 2012. The team needed a corner, and after Cortland Finnegan signed a $50 million deal that year with the St. Louis Rams, the Cowboys’ hand was forced. In order to land the only other viable corner on the market at the time, Dallas had to match that price, giving Carr essentially the same deal. That same year, Dallas traded up in the draft to take Claiborne 6th overall. Both corners were huge gambles that have yet to pay off.
Morris Claiborne falls under the much dreaded label of “injury prone”. He has yet to play a full season. In his three season with Dallas, he has only managed 72 total tackles and 3 interceptions. In that same time frame, Scandrick notched 125 total tackles and 4 interceptions. Claiborne has not played like a 1st round talent, and the front office must not see the potential since they have yet to pick up his 5th year option. This is literally his last chance to prove himself, which can work as a motivator for some players (i.e. Mark Ingram), but his health still remains a question mark.
Brandon Carr is due to make $8 million this season. We have a better chance of season DeMarco Murray traded back to the Cowboys on draft day than seeing Brandon Carr make that kind of money in 2015. His agent says he won’t take a pay cut, but he will and he should. Carr was a force with the Kansas City Chiefs, but that production hasn’t translated in Dallas. In his final three seasons in Kansas City, Carr defended 59 passes, yet in his three seasons in Dallas he only managed to break up 30. He showed what he can do in our playoff win, keeping Calvin Johnson under 100 yards and out of the end zone. However, there is a lack of consistency with Carr, and his contract demands better production.
What can the Cowboys do with Carr and Claiborne? At this point, nothing really. They will have to look in the draft and bring in bodies to compete, and make decisions on the best players playing. We do have a huge problem on our hands, and that problem is currently Odell Beckham, Jr. He had his way with Brandon Carr in 2014 (I was at the game in MetLife for “the catch” – it was truly incredible). With all the free agency scheming going on in Philadelphia and the Redskins also being a mess, the Giants are quietly our biggest threat to take the NFC East Championship crown from us. If Victor Cruz returns to form and remains healthy, Orlando Scandrick will take that assignment and has proven he can handle Cruz in the slot. Someone is going to have to cover Beckham, Jr. DeSean Jackson and Jordan Matthews need to be considered as well.
Here in lies the conundrum. Free agency is all but over, and it’s assumed the Cowboys will attempt to replace DeMarco Murray early in the draft. We need a corner who can take on that opposing #1 receiver in 2015. Will we draft a corner? In what round? Who will it be?