Cowboys Free Agency: Options At Cornerback

Cornerback is one of the thinnest areas on the Cowboys roster. With the Cowboys typically liking to satisfy needs before the draft, this position should be addressed in some fashion through free agency, even if it is just for depth.

A report came out yesterday on Yahoo about the Cowboys looking to cut Brandon Carr as well as showing interest in Adam “Pacman” Jones.

First off, I’d like to say I don’t believe that report at all.

While the Cowboys may be talking about the possibility of cutting Brandon Carr, I don’t think they have reached a decision. Plenty of more trustworthy Cowboys follows have said they were not hearing what the Yahoo report said. Yahoo reporter Charles Robinson has also been wrong on Cowboys stories before.

I especially do not believe the Adam “Pacman” Jones portion of the story.

According to Robinson, Stephen Jones ran into Adam Jones at a restaurant. The Cowboys were having their dinner and Adam Jones and his agent happened to be in the same restaurant. Stephen Jones, Adam Jones, and Jones’ agent, Peter Schaffer, exchanged pleasantries.

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Adam Jones played a season with the Dallas Cowboys, so it isn’t particularly strange that Stephen Jones spoke to him when crossing paths

To use this to justify interest in Adam Jones is ridiculous to me. Adam Jones is a former Cowboy, so you would expect Stephen Jones to say hello if they crossed paths. Peter Schaffer, being a popular agent, has probably spoken to Stephen Jones plenty of times in their careers, so obviously they will say hello to each other if they bump into one another. I think this is normal people saying hello and communicating like normal humans, and it’s being misconstrued as Cowboys interest.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s see who some options are for the Cowboys. Keep in mind that Dallas covets lengthy cornerbacks, preferring arm length to height, but loving bigger corners in general. Dallas also loves a physical corner who isn’t afraid to tackle.

Trumaine Johnson was a popular option before he was franchise tagged by the Los Angeles Rams. This leaves Janoris Jenkins free to hit the market, but would he be a target?

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Trumaine Johnson would have been the perfect target for Dallas but he will return to the Rams under the franchise tag

My free agent cornerback power rankings would go as follows:

  1. Sean Smith
  2. Casey Hayward
  3. Morris Claiborne
  4. Janoris Jenkins
  5. Brandon Boykin
  6. Adam Jones
  7. Patrick Robinson
  8. Leon Hall
  9. Prince Amukamara

While Janoris Jenkins will probably be the hottest name on the market, Sean Smith really makes a ton of sense for the Cowboys.

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Sean Smith

Height: 6’3

Arm length: 34.5″

Smith is one of the most under-appreciated players in the NFL. You may not hear his name too often and he isn’t mentioned in the elite tier of cornerbacks in the game today, but Smith is just a rock solid corner.

In an NFL where corners are extremely grabby, Smith is one of the least penalized players you can find. He actually went the entire 2014 season without committing a penalty, which is just insane to think about.

Smith’s interception totals are low, but I was alerted to the fact that he also isn’t targeted very frequently, something that contributes to that.

Smith is going to give you the sticky man coverage and physicality that the Cowboys covet from outside corners. You get a completely well-rounded player that commits few penalties and doesn’t make many mistakes back there.

The reason I think he makes the most sense for the Cowboys is because we know how much they value size in corners. Sean Smith is 6’3 and has an arm length of 34.5 inches. That is one huge cornerback.

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Nov 30, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Casey Hayward (29) before the game against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Casey Hayward

Height: 5’11

Arm Length: 30″

Casey Hayward was on his way to becoming one of the game’s best corners before the injury bug hit him.

Hayward has been a major piece of the Green Bay secondary, and if it weren’t for so many good young players being drafted into their secondary recently, I think they would make a big run at keeping him.

Hayward was awarded Pro Football Focus’ Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012, but has yet to reach that kind of production since suffering injuries. Hayward also doesn’t have many interceptions to his name and lacks the kind of size Dallas covets. At 5’11, he isn’t particularly small at all, but with 30 inch arms it isn’t ideal.

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Morris Claiborne

Height: 5’11

Arm Length: 33 1/4″

Morris Claiborne is the same height as Casey Hayward, but where they differ is in arm lgnth. Claiborne comes in at 33 1/4 inch arms, which Dallas loves.

2015 was by far Claiborne’s best season as a pro. Coming off of a torn patellar tendon injury, nobody expected to see such great play from him early in the season. Claiborne still battled injury, but when healthy, he was average at worst.

Some still think Claiborne’s best days are ahead of him. Another year removed from the achilles injury should help Claiborne reach better health. With an entire offseason to build off of his best season as a pro, we may be getting closer to seeing the guy who was an absolute star at LSU.

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Janoris Jenkins

Height: 5’10

Arm Length: 32″

Janoris Jenkins will probably be the biggest name this year, but I think it says something that the Los Angeles Rams had both Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins and decided to keep Johnson.

Jenkins has slightly less size than the Cowboys look for at 5’10 with 32 inch arms. He also doesn’t have a very high interception total.

Jenkins is an aggressive corner. He will take chances and sometimes win, but he will also give up some big plays. That is a concern, as well as his past which includes three arrests in college, ultimately leading to him getting kicked off the team at Florida.

Regardless, Jenkins is a talented and athletic corner who is still young and should grow even more as one of the league’s better corners.

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Brandon Boykin

Height: 5’9

Arm Length: 31.5″

Brandon Boykin is actually one of the more intriguing names for me.

Ask Pittsburgh Steelers fans what they thought of Boykin and I bet most of them will express how frustrated they are that Boykin was confined to the slot.

Boykin is a really talented player, but the reason I have him so low on my list is I just don’t see him fitting what Dallas looks for. At 5’9 with 31.5 inch arms, that is pretty small for an outside corner, especially considering how much Dallas values length.

Regardless, Boykin will be one of those under-the-radar signings this offseason that has a pretty nice impact, wherever he ends up.

The rest of my list is filled with players that are good, but don’t really have much upside or anything to be excited for. While all of those players will give you average play at best, I don’t know how much better they would make the Cowboys.

A guy like Adam Jones has been playing great football as of late, but his character concerns leave something to be desired.

Patrick Robinson was a former first round pick and is still young, but still hasn’t lived up to his potential. After signing a one year deal with San Diego, Robinson posted his best season as a pro. You hope he continues to ascend rather than sinking back to the average level of play that he showed prior to San Diego. While he comes in at 5’11, his arms aren’t as long as you’d like at 30.5 inches.

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Patrick Robinson is an intriguing target if he can progress from his San Diego year rather than his New Orleans years

Leon Hall is a solid cornerback, but his age is an obvious concern.

Prince Amukamara is the less talented version of Morris Claiborne in that he was also a first round pick that can’t stay on the field, but Amukamara has a much lower ceiling than Claiborne does.

What do you think?


Written by Nick Cocchiaro

I've been blogging about sports and music for almost eight years now. I also work in media relations for a New York sports team, so I understand the bridge between the outlets writing about a team and the team monitoring content.

I hope to bring something new to Inside The Star, getting deep into draft work, breakdowns and I always come with a strong and passionate opinion. I'm very active on Twitter, so ask questions, comment on stuff, etc. and I will almost definitely respond to you in some sort of debate!


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