As previously mentioned, the Dallas Cowboys have half of their secondary about to hit the open market in a matter of weeks. They will be looking to improve their defense any way they can because that contributed to their demise in the playoffs just a few weeks ago. That’s not to say that the secondary didn’t have some bright spots in 2016.
Last offseason the Cowboys did look for secondary help but weren’t very successful in free agency. They did, however, manage to snag a potential 2017 starter with their sixth-round pick, Anthony Brown. Brown was able to collect 55 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception in his rookie season that saw him actually jump into the starting role for nine games. His future is most certainly secure but the futures of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr are much more of the cloudy persuasion at this point.
Brandon Carr, for my money, would be the candidate for an extension, that is, if he doesn’t decide to retire in the offseason. Though it could make you sick to see the younger Claiborne leave and find success elsewhere, he doesn’t add near the insurance that Carr does. In fact, over five seasons, Mo’ has missed 33 games, including nine games this season.
If they lose one of the two or both, they could choose to find some veteran insurance on the open market and even double-dip in the draft. One guy that has been somewhat of a disappointment and is also connected to Claiborne would be none other than the former Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Both he and Claiborne were drafted in the same 2012 NFL draft but Kirkpatrick was taken by the Bengals eleven picks later. Kirkpatrick had a pretty decent season in 2016 but he has been far from what Cincinnati hoped they were getting. Could that make his asking price more affordable? Certainly. Should the Cowboys consider him? Why not?
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, 27, Cincinnati Bengals, 6’2, 185 lbs
He was a standout cornerback for the Tide helping them win two National Championships in his tenure and following the footsteps of many standout defensive backs from Tuscaloosa. He was a fan favorite among many here at BTB too along with LSU’s Morris Claiborne, the eventual sixth-overall pick that cost Dallas some capital to select.
Kirkpatrick was selected 17th-overall by the Bengals as the second-highest touted cornerback in the entire draft. Much like Claiborne, Kirkpatrick had issues staying on the field. In his rookie season, he suffered a knee injury in the preseason and missed eight games. He then returned to play five games but suffered a concussion in week 12, sidelining himself for the rest of the season.
He returned to the lineup in 2013, starting three games and appearing in 14 games. He was able to defend five passes, register one sack, 30 tackles, and three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. In 2014, Kirkpatrick started only two games but appeared in all 16 games, recording 23 tackles, 7 passes defended, snagged three more picks and returned another for a score.
Finally, in 2015, Kirkpatrick was trusted as the full-time starter for 15 games where he racked up a whopping 70 tackles and 16 passes defended but had zero interceptions. This season, Kirkpatrick played admirably. He started 14 of 15 games he appeared in, registered 46 tackles, 10 passes defended and three more interceptions.
One thing that he does very well is finish the tackle which is something that is important for corners in Dallas’ scheme. With a defense that gives up the yards, the Cowboys didn’t give up a lot of points and that’s because they are a well-polished tackling team. As much as this team needs playmakers at defensive back, they’ll likely have to look to the draft for that.
Still, free agency does offer some solid cover guys that can help this team improve on defense. There are guys like Malcolm Butler, A.J. Bouye, and Trumaine Johnson that have a better nose for the ball. With that said, if you have the stats, you’re going to be paid well and priced out of the Cowboys range. Kirkpatrick has a name and maybe that’ll get him some money but it won’t be the big tags attached to those three mentioned at the top of the market.
If Dallas does happen to lose a guy or two, Kirkpatrick would be someone that should gain consideration. With him only being 27, there is still plenty to coach up with this guy and who knows what he could become in Dallas’ defense?