When the Dallas Cowboys signed Brandon Carr in the 2012 offseason, there was a thought that the duo of Carr and eventual 2012 first-round pick Morris Claiborne would make up a reliable tandem for years to come at cornerback. Dallas went through a ton of resources to upgrade the position, but the moves turned out to backfire.
Carr has never played up to his $50 million contract and while Cowboys fans hate that Carr refused a paycut after the 2014 season, it should be said that Carr benefited from a weak free agency class in 2012. Coming from a stacked Kansas City defense as the team's No. 2 cornerback, Carr's weaknesses were covered by the Chiefs' deadly pass rush as well as Brandon Flowers continually drawing the opposing team's No. 1 cornerback. Carr then signed with the Cowboys and while the relationship started well, Carr has never become what he was brought to Dallas for, a shutdown corner.
For two years straight, it has been discussed that the Cowboys would designate Carr as a post June 1st cut and use that money to sign a quality piece in free agency. But as this offseason has gone on, the Cowboys have shaped their roster in the way where Carr might actually be better on the Cowboys' 2016 roster than off. Despite advocating for ending ties with Carr and taking his cap number and applying it to a free agent, but there may just be more reasoning to do the opposite of that.
When the team made contact with both Patrick Robinson and Nolan Carroll, it was clear that upgrades at the position were in order. But after money played a role, both fell out of favor and ended up signing elsewhere. Looking at the current market at the position, the top cornerback left is Leon Hall. The Cowboys had Hall come in for a visit, but because there has really been no movement since then, the Cowboys may be done with potential starting corners in free agency.
As the draft approaches, one name that will definitely be on the Cowboys' roster is Jalen Ramsey. As it stands now and as it will likely stand, Ramsey is the best skill player on many draft boards. He's an unbelievable athlete, he displays pro-ready technique, and his cover skills are truly advanced for his years. But if Ramsey were drafted by the Cowboys, which is a plausible possibility with the fourth-overall pick, the Cowboys might move Ramsey to safety to pair with Byron Jones.
By doing this, it would leave the team a little thin at cornerback. However, moving Jones to safety has been in the cards for awhile now and putting Ramsey back there with him may finally give the Cowboys the defensive backfield they have needed for years.
The Cowboys can start Orlando Scandrick and one other corner, but in the NFL you need three corners, at minimum. With Morris Claiborne back, Dallas could start Carr and Scandrick, then slide Scandrick inside in the nickel and put Caliborne on the outside. Shelling out $9 million to Carr might be tough to take, but with the options dwindling in free agency, and the inherent risk with rookie corners, it's starting to look like the best option.
For the Cowboys to cover up how Carr gets exposed, they simply need to find ways to get after the quarterback. Towards the end of the 2014 season, the Cowboys were doing a better job of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. In return, this was the part of Carr's tenure in Dallas where he looked most comfortable.
Carr's lapses in coverage will be problematic at times, but he's extremely knowledgeable and resourceful in terms of what Rod Marinelli wants out of this defense. Sticking to their own has been something the Cowboys have prided themselves on this offseason. It may be the unpopular opinion, but I expect that to continue with Carr and I expect him to be wearing a star on his helmet come September.