As we move towards free agency, which begins on March 9, we’ll take a look at all the Cowboys current unrestricted free agents in an effort to discern whether they will return or not. Today, we’ll take on a player who has battled injury and expectations, Morris Claiborne.
The Cowboys famously traded up in the 2012 draft to pick Claiborne with the sixth pick. They gave the then St. Louis Rams their 14th pick and their 45th pick to get Claiborne, who was considered the top cornerback, and perhaps the best defensive player, in the draft. Since then he has played out his rookie contract with Dallas and was then re-signed for one year at a base of $3 million last offseason.
Case For Re-signing
After years of waiting on Claiborne to fulfill his potential, the Cowboys finally started seeing glimpses of it in the 2016 season. Heading into Week 12 of the season, Pro Football Focus had Claiborne rated as their number nine cornerback for the season. The Cowboys secondary was demonstratively better this season and the resurgence of Claiborne was partially responsible for that. He was limiting the number of catches in his area and he was limiting the yards per catch.
After so much investment and patience, the Cowboys would love to reap the benefits if Claiborne has truly turned things around. He’s still young, he’ll be 27 when the season begins, and has enormous potential. This is a guy who scouts thought would be the next, great lockdown corner. He might never be that, but he has the ability to be a very good corner in the NFL.
His price might not be outrageous considering his struggles through most of his career, and he already knows the Cowboys defense and would need no acclimation time.
Case For Letting Him Go
In a word, injuries. Even during his renaissance season in 2016, he couldn’t make it through the full year. Out of 80 possible regular-season games in his career, Claiborne has only played in 47. That’s barley half. In the NFL availability is part of the game. Every year it seems like Claiborne comes up with a new ailment that wrecks his season.
Can the Cowboys continue to carry a guy they can’t count on being out there every week? Brandon Carr is older and maybe not as physically talented, but he is always healthy. The Cowboys may have to make a choice between the two.
Everyone would love to see the Cowboys’ investment in Claiborne pay off, but to continue to believe in a player that is always injured can ruin a secondary. The potential is there, but it’s potential for good and bad.
Vote in the poll then tell us what you think in the comments.