Three drafts ago the Dallas Cowboys traded away a second-round pick to move up into the sixth slot to draft what they thought was the answer to the team's needs. The team was not alone. Just about everyone with an opinion felt that the player they selected was the top cornerback and possibly the best defensive player in the draft that season. Had the player in question remotely lived up to the hype that surrounded him, the move to trade up would now be considered a successful one. The problem is that the Cowboys have received little to no return on the investment of their top two picks in the 2012 draft.
The Morris Claiborne that arrived in Dallas was not the Morris Claiborne that earned the billing as "the best corner prospect since Deion Sanders". The one the Cowboys have on the roster now has played in just over half (29 out of 50) of the games since he was selected. During his 29 appearances he has accounted for three interceptions and eight passes defensed. Nearly two out of every three passes thrown his way have resulted in a completion. These are not the kinds of numbers that make most fans think of Deion.
The Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, has admitted that the team has not received what it anticipated when they selected the LSU product with their first and second picks a few years ago. Speaking of Claiborne back in September, Jones had this to say:
"Is he what we had hoped for at this point when we drafted him with the sixth overall pick, giving up the (second-round) pick to go up to the sixth pick to get him? No. But he's going to be a good player."
Since the Cowboys owner made that statement, the beleaguered defensive back has seen his football fortunes go from bad to worse. Claiborne lost his starting job and responded not by doubling down his efforts but by storming off in a fit of immaturity that is in stark contrast to the "Right Kind of Guy" philosophy that surrounds the Dallas locker room. A season-ending injury soon took away any chance that Mo would have to redeem himself in 2014. Three years into his Cowboys career, Morris Claiborne does not seem to be "getting it" on or off of the field. Many have questioned his future within the organization.
That very question was put to Jerry Jones at the Senior Bowl. While nobody should expect the owner to be openly critical of a player when speaking to the media, a player that has shown only limited progress in three seasons, who has displayed a lack of accountability for his actions, and who has proven himself to be injury prone should not expect to get even a slight vote of confidence. That is what Claiborne received today.
Jerry Jones said that CB Morris Claiborne has done enough for the Cowboys to justify picking up his 5th-year option.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) January 20, 2015
For many around Cowboys Universe it may seem hard to believe that Dallas would even consider picking up the option on Mo's contract, especially in light of the fact that he is the only first-round selection of the recent era to have not made a trip to the Pro Bowl. Sure, injuries have limited his usefulness, but injuries did not cost him the starting job. That was a lack of performance, a performance that does not come close to justifying the transitional salary of $11 million that Claiborne would be guaranteed if the team exercises its fifth-year option on the cornerback.
Dallas has until May 3rd to make a formal decision on the status of Claiborne's fifth season. Perhaps Jones was trying to avoid speaking ill of a player, as he should, but the question he was asked could have been avoided with a simple "We are evaluating all of our options" response. It did not require Jerry saying that they player had done enough to justify the Cowboys keeping him around for 2016.
No, Jerry, Claiborne has not done nearly enough to justify keeping him around. He should be given the opportunity to do that if he can rebound for this fall. If not, then the time has come for the organization to move on at one of the most critical positions on the defense. You do not have the second coming of Deion Sanders. Stop acting as if you do.