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Cowboys free agent focus: Maurice Canady could make an impact with Cowboys as utility CB

Maurice Canady isn’t a household name but he could potentially make a name for himself in Dallas.

NFL: New York Jets at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

[We have previously been profiling potential fits for the Cowboys but now free agency is here, and things are moving. Let’s start profiling the free agent acquisitions made by the Dallas Cowboys to see where they stand in their roster-building.]

When free agency opened up and the Cowboys lost Byron Jones to the Dolphins, signing Maurice Canady did not drum up a ton of excitement. Maurice Canady should not be considered the replacement for Byron Jones, that may come later in this year’s draft. However, just because Canady is not a well-known commodity doesn’t mean he can’t find a role and contribute to making this a better football team.

Before Canady entered the league, he spent four years at Virginia as a starting corner and even spent time returning punts on special teams. He started 32 of 43 games for Virginia, recorded 146 tackles, 26 pass breakups, 6.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions (including a pick-six), two sacks, and two forced fumbles. As a junior, Canady finished sixth in the ACC for interceptions with three on the season. He didn’t start returning punts until his senior year but was 10th in the conference, averaging 25.2 yards per return. Canady was First Team All-ACC in 2015 and was twice named to the Second Team All-ACC in 2014 and 2013. He also picked up back-to-back ACC Defensive Back of the Week honors and made the Bronco Nagurski Award watch list.

Canady was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2016 NFL Draft and saw limited action his first few years. This past season he would appear in five games with the Ravens before he was released after a really bad day at the office against the division rival Bengals. During that week six matchup, Canady was targeted 14 times, he gave up 10 receptions for over 100 yards. The New York Jets would bring Canady in for a role on special teams in week 10 before giving him another run as a fill-in starter in week 11.

Canady’s seven games playing defense for the Jets was a stark contrast from his struggles in Baltimore. After allowing 17 receptions on 27 targets with the Ravens in just five games, he only allowed nine receptions on 14 targets, for just 78 yards in seven games with New York. On just under 400 snaps with the Jets, Canady’s 71.5 PFF grade made him the second-best corner on the team, behind only Brian Poole’s 79.0. Overall, he was PFF’s 24th ranked cornerback. Nobody is going to declare that Maurice Canady is a surefire starter but his contributions on limited snaps have at least earned him some opportunities to compete for more playing time.

Canady has also spent some time on special teams in his career. In 2017 he played on 26% of special teams snaps and in 2018 he played on 35% of special teams snaps. This is probably the are he would make the most impact for the Cowboys as Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown will likely handle most of the regular cornerback duties. The Cowboys could also add a rookie to the mix in the draft. While Canady could serve as an emergency corner, he really needs to show something on special teams to stick around.