The Dallas Cowboys enter this off-season in a challenging situation with regards to their secondary. Typically, players come and go but it is unusual for both of your starters to enter free agency at the same time. In the NFC, the Cowboys routinely face extremely talented receivers and given their lack of a pass rush, there is immense pressure for the secondary to step up. Here we will discuss the cornerback position followed by the safety position in the final part of our ten part series.
Brandon Carr arrived in Dallas as a free agent five seasons ago in 2012 with great anticipation and expectations. Although he has not fulfilled his role as a shutdown corner, he has been dependable as he has started every game of every season during his Cowboys career. He has recorded only seven interceptions and 45 pass deflections during this time frame. He enters this offseason as a free agent and puts Dallas in a very interesting position. Does Brandon Carr test the market and potentially drive up his price tag, or does his overall pedestrian performance over these years limit his market? Should Dallas offer him a one-year deal to make him prove himself during the 2017 season? Or should the Dallas Cowboys rid themselves of Brandon Carr all together assuming the price is too high?
Morris Claiborne came to the Dallas Cowboys with an Ezekiel Elliott-type welcome. The Cowboys mortgaged a bit of their future (that years second-round pick) to move up in the draft and selected Claiborne with the sixth-overall pick. He entered last season as a free agent and signed a one-year contract worth $3 million dollars. He again enters this season as a free agent after having the best year of his career. Whether that was the motivation or whether he finally found his groove, he played excellent football until injuring his hamstring midway through the season. Dallas faces another decision at the cornerback position with Claiborne. Are seven productive games last season enough to make him a hot commodity on the free agent market? Will Dallas attempt to sign him for a short contract again in a ploy to make him prove himself (again)? Will Claiborne rely on his short but effective season to sign a long-term and more lucrative contract elsewhere?
Orlando Scandrick was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2008 draft and has solidified himself as the slot cornerback on the team, but has also spent time on the outside, too. He used an effective 2009 season and signed a long-term contract through the end of next season. As his play was improving rapidly, he unfortunately suffered an MCL and ACL tear prior to the 2015 season. As a result, he played okay in 2016 and was clearly hampered from lingering injuries and rehabilitation. Scandrick's strength remains as the nickel corner as opposed to defending the X or the Y receiver. Look for Scandrick to continue to provide leadership to a group that could be entirely overhauled next season.
Anthony Brown got little recognition as he was drafted late in the glorious 2016 draft. He was pushed in as a starter (or at least a frequently used backup) many times this year in light of injuries to Morris Claiborne and other secondary shuffling. Regardless of what Dallas decides to do with Carr and Claiborne, Brown performed well and will remain in the mix as a cornerback with the Cowboys.
McFadden was signed off the practice squad in mid-season because of the injury to Morris Claiborne. He saw limited action in the secondary, mainly when injuries thinned out the position and also the issues at safety because of Barry Church’s injury. Summary of Predictions
Summary of Predictions
Thus far, the Cowboys have been silent with their plan at cornerback. Look for Dallas to keep Morris Claiborne given his youth and potential and let Brandon Carr go in free agency. Look for Dallas to use a high draft pick or make a splash in free agency to add a cornerback opposite of Claiborne. Scandrick will remain as the nickel while Anthony Brown provides a safety net across the entire secondary.