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Free Agent CBs: Will the Cowboys Re-sign Carr or Claiborne?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Morris Claiborne Doing The "Right" Things At Training Camp

Leading up to the March 9th start of NFL free agency, we will be looking at all Dallas Cowboys players under contract for 2017 and how much of the salary cap each position is taking up.

Position Breakdowns: SPECIAL TEAMS | RUNNING BACKS | SAFETIES | TIGHT ENDS | LINEBACKERS | GUARDS & CENTERS | DEFENSIVE TACKLES | OFFENSIVE TACKLES | DEFENSIVE ENDS | QUARTERBACKS | RECEIVERS

Cowboys Capology: Cornerbacks

Before Tony Romo and Tyrone Crawford, Brandon Carr had the worst contract on the Cowboys roster for several seasons. He is now a free agent though, and joining him is the much-maligned Morris Claiborne.

For all the complaints you could have about them, Carr and Claiborne were the Cowboys top two cornerbacks in 2016. Carr was the most reliable and Claiborne, when healthy, was their strongest performer. Both leaving Dallas would create a major hole for the Cowboys defense.

Before we dive into the specifics, let's look at the NFL's 2017 salary cap. The league announced that the cap would be set at $167 million for the upcoming season. Even though this is still a $10 million increase from last year, it's a few million short of what many were projecting.

Confirmed 2017 Salary Cap = $167 million
Cowboys 2016 Cap Rollover = $2.4 million

Dallas Cowboys 2017 Salary Cap = $169.4 million

Now, using that number as our foundation, let's look at how much the Cowboys' cornerbacks are scheduled to cost against the 2017 salary cap.

Orlando Scandrick

CB Orlando Scandrick

Orlando Scandrick

2017 Cap Hit: $5.28 million

It was a tough year for the veteran, missing four games with injury and playing hurt through most of the season. After missing all of 2015 with a major knee injury, Scandrick's status in the Dallas defense has taken a big hit.

Thankfully, Orlando's cap hit isn't too bad. If he can get healthy and close to his previous form next year, $5 million is a reasonable price for a top three cornerback. Scandrick was recently one of the league's best slot cornerbacks and Dallas hopes he can get there again.

Anthony Brown

CB Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown

2017 Cap Hit: $574k

While Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott get most of the glory, Anthony Brown is a big reason that the Cowboys' 2016 draft class is being talked about as an all-time great. Taken in the sixth round, Brown had to play a lot with injuries to Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. He also had to play both outside and in the slot, performing well in both roles.

Brown's solid play as a rookie and seemingly large potential gives Dallas some bargaining power this year. They can afford to get tough with free agents Claiborne and Brandon Carr, knowing they have Brown as a capable starter.

Leon McFadden

CB Leon McFadden

Leon McFadden

2017 Cap Hit: $775k

Dallas added McFadden to their practice squad in October and he was playing in a game a week later. Getting a roster spot thanks to Morris Claiborne's injury, McFadden was active for nine games in a reserve role. A third-round pick in 2013, Leon hopes he did enough to keep the Cowboys interest.

Jeremiah McKinnon

2017 Cap Hit: $465k

An undrafted free agent who started with Dallas last May, McKinnon was injured during the preseason and eventually waived. Tennessee signed him to their practice squad in November, but once the season was over McKinnon ended up re-joining the Cowboys with a two-year deal.

Sammy Seamster

2017 Cap Hit: $540k

After bouncing between four different teams from 2014 -2015, Seamster landed on the Cowboys practice squad for all of last year. He was signed to a futures contract in January.

Free Agents

Brandon Carr - We will be going deep into the possibility of Carr returning in a minute. Here's a quick overview; Carr turns 31 in May and has never missed a game in nine NFL season, starting every single one of them. He had a solid season in 2016 and is one of the league's best citizens and leaders.

Morris Claiborne - On the other side of the spectrum from Carr in many ways, Claiborne can be a good-to-great starter for any team but cannot stay healthy. He is still just 27, though, and will entice plenty of teams in a thin free agent cornerback market. We will next discuss if Dallas can afford to keep him, and if they should even want to.

Brandon Carr

CB Brandon Carr

2017 Salary Cap Impact

Total Cornerback Cap Hit = $7.63 million
Percentage of 2017 Salary Cap = 4.5%

It's unlikely that Dallas would want to bring back both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys will likely expect for Anthony Browns to move into a full-time starting role and for Orlando Scandrick to remain the slot corner, leaving one spot left in the top three.

Claiborne's probably will get too expensive for the Cowboys. Despite all his red flags, he's still a former sixth-overall pick and only just turned 27 in February. Morris showed his talent early in the year and other teams certainly were watching. Dallas doesn't have the money to compete in a bidding war, so the only way Claiborne comes back is if he sits unsigned long enough to accept a bargain deal from the Cowboys.

Far more likely is that Dallas will re-sign Brandon Carr to a short-term deal. As Jerry Jones said recently, availability is perhaps the most important trait of any player. Carr has that like few cornerbacks in NFL history can claim.

Keeping Carr would probably give the Cowboys their best value for their money. Retaining talent is usually cheaper than replacing it. Of course, we never know if Dallas has their eye on someone specific in the upcoming free agent market.

It's worth noting that the last we heard from Brandon Carr was that he was contemplating retirement, which he said shortly after the Cowboys' playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. Whether or not that's still his stance, or if it was just said in a moment of disappointment and frustration, has yet to be determined.

Thanks to Anthony Brown moving into a starting role on a cheap rookie contract, Dallas won't have to be too worried about the overall payroll at cornerback no matter what they do next. Unfortunately, their overall cap space limits being able to make a big signing in the free agent market.

Still, if Brown keeps developing and Orlando Scandrick gets healthy again, maybe all you need is a reliable guy like Brandon Carr to fill out your primary CB slots. It wouldn't be a dynamic group but it wouldn't be any worse than what got you to 13-3 and a few plays away from the NFC Championship Game.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Rich

    March 4, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I would bring back Claiborne. Even if he misses time again, I would prefer to at least have a superior product on the field during the time he is not injured. Carr seems to play a game of try to keep the receiver in front of me. Doesn’t really try to stop the pass. Just wants to quickly tackle the receiver after the catch.

    • Franklin Jones

      March 4, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      Talented, but his injury history scares me out of relying on him too much. That avulsion of bone from his pelvis sounds horrifying, although I have no medical experience. But I’ve never seen or read about that kind of injury before. Maybe he’s just so reckless on the field that his enthusiasm for the big play keeps putting him on the sideline for weeks at a time. I’d re-work some contracts and make some cap room to sign some UFA’s who fit the system and draft some talent to develop for the future. Keep Carr for stability and consistency and allow Claiborne to test his value on the market. If there aren’t any takers, sign him to a reasonable 2 year.

      • Jess Haynie

        Jess Haynie

        March 6, 2017 at 9:26 am

        Very sound strategy across the board. Like the way you think.

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      March 6, 2017 at 9:26 am

      The problem with Claiborne is going to be the market. Right now, it looks like he may get offered more than Dallas is in a position to match. I think they would be tempted to, but this is a situation where their cap issues may prevent them from making a big mistake.

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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?

A season after Jason Witten's retirement, the Dallas Cowboys still have a need at tight end. Replacing a future Hall of Famer is no easy feat so it's only logical that it would take longer than a season to feel good about who's in at tight end.

The Cowboys currently have two tight ends who could be pretty serviceable going forward. Fourth round pick Dalton Schultz did a very solid job as the team's TE2, specially toward the second half of the season. He turned into a pretty good run blocker and despite only racking up 116 yards in 12 catches, he's a guy the Cowboys' offense could use even more in the future.

Also on the team is Blake Jarwin, who functioned as the Cowboys' main tight end for most of 2018. His performance against the New York Giants in week 17 made us wonder whether or not he could be an important target on the Cowboys' offense.

These two could very well have more in them than what we've seen. With a new offensive coordinator in town, tight end is a position the Cowboys could start using way more. As Bobby Belt pointed out on Twitter a few weeks ago, Scott Linehan's offense doesn't benefit tight ends very much. Before we give a verdict on what Schultz and Jarwin can do, I'd like to see them work with Kellen Moore's offense.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

One thing you consistently see when Scott Linehan takes over an offense is a drop in the starting tight end's production. Randy McMichael, Byron Chamberlain, and Jason Witten all saw drops in yards per catch, receptions per game, and yards per game once Linehan took over.

Here's the thing. If the Cowboys are not taking a tight end in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, are they really upgrading what they already have? I'm not sure we'll be convinced about that if they draft a player for the position until the third or fourth round. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for the Cowboys drafting a TE in the second round, because I believe there are more pressing needs on the team. However, signing a veteran free agent might be the better option for upgrading the position.

Should a veteran TE be an option?

This year, there are quite a few interesting names in the tight end market. Veterans such as Jared Cook, Tyler Eifert and even Antonio Gates will be looking for a new team pretty soon. I know, that would be "getting older." But it could also mean getting better. Building a solid TE committee with a veteran leading Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz could be the way to go for this football team.

Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency? 1

TE Tyler Eifert (Aaron Doster / USA TODAY Sports)

Eifert is a great tight end... when he's on the field. Durability is his biggest weakness, as he hasn't played more than 10 games since 2016. The Cowboys could take a risk on him and constantly rotate him with Jarwin and Schultz. It may be a huge risk, but it could pay off big time. If the price is right, Eifert should be targeted by the front office.

The 2018 Oakland Raiders had a season to forget, winning only four games. Even still, Jared Cook's season was impressive. He finished the year with 896 yards and multiple 100-yard games. The biggest issue with Cook is his age. He turns 32 in April. But hey, he's literally coming off from a career year.

Jesse James is a younger guy who could also be worth it. He's not an a potent receiver, but he gets it done in the passing game and is one hell of a blocker. James could be a legit, cheaper option for the Cowboys in free agency.

There are a lot of names out there the front office could look at. Charles Clay was just released by the Buffalo Bills and Nick Boyle will be looking for new job after new arrivals pushed him out of the Baltimore Ravens' roster just to mention a few names.

We'll see what the front office's plans are soon enough, but right now, I'd say tight end is a need the Dallas Cowboys should at least try to address in free agency instead of the NFL Draft.

Tell me what you think about "Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Cornerback

Jess Haynie

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Byron Jones

Unlike other positions on their roster, cornerback appears ready to off the Dallas Cowboys stability in 2019. However, that doesn't mean the team can just ignore it this offseason. There are still a few decisions to be made.

Thanks to a shrewd move in April of last year, Dallas will be enjoying Byron Jones' services at a bargain. They picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract and will be paying him just $6.3 million next season.

That's a steal for a Pro Bowl corner, who generally make more than double that amount in a single year. But the Cowboys are still left the decision of whether or not to give Jones a long-term deal now or wait until he hits free agency in 2020.

It's easy to say that they should enjoy the discount and worry about it next year. But then you risk a second Pro Bowl trip and the lure of the open market. Byron's asking price could only go up.

Of course, Dallas could then also have the option of using the franchise tag.

Keep in mind that Jones will turn 27 this September. Dallas could decide that it makes sense to play through the rookie deal this year, franchise him in 2020, and then reassess when he's about to turn 29 years old.

If they give Byron a long-term deal now then they'll have to pay him like one of the top corners in football. It may be wise to wait.

Chidobe Awuzie, Giants

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

Another decision facing the Cowboys is if they think they can improve at the second starting position. It was an up-and-down year for Chidobe Awuzie, but he was playing his best toward the end of the season. Dallas could hope that a second year with Kris Richard's coaching, and just more general growth for a third-year player, will elevate Awuzie's game.

However, with plenty of cap space to work with, Dallas could pursue a solid veteran option and then allow Awuzie to play the nickel role. It would not only perhaps improve the CB2 position but also bolster depth overall.

Speaking of depth, Anthony Brown returns for the final year of his rookie deal. While never spectacular, Brown has been a gem as a former sixth-round pick with 29 career starts. He brings exceptional value and may even compete with Awuzie for the starting job.

While arguably the team's best young corner in 2017, Jourdan Lewis comes into this season with a lot of uncertainty. He fell out of favor last season, perhaps for not fitting the physical style that Richard likes. But he did manage to snag the game-clinching interception in Dallas' upset win over the New Orleans Saints.

If a scheme mismatch is the issue, the Cowboys could look to trade Lewis this offseason. He still has two years left on his rookie deal and was considered a first-round prospect by some in 2017. A cornerback-needy club might have more use for him than Dallas seems to.

If they did move Jourdan, the Cowboys might turn to Donovan Olumba to fill out the depth chart. He was one of their surprising performers in last year's training camp and spent the year on the practice squad. At 6'2", he has the size that the team seems to be looking for now in its corners.

More than likely, Dallas will ride with this group in 2019 with no big changes. I do think a Lewis trade is possible, especially with the Cowboys short on draft picks this year. But don't expect any major cap space or draft capital to go at one of the team's more solid positions.

With all the other work Dallas needs done this offseason, a little stability at cornerback is a luxury.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center

Jess Haynie

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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Even with Dez Bryant's release and Jason Witten's retirement, the loss of Travis Frederick last season may have been the most damaging to the Dallas Cowboys. The team looks forward to getting their All-Pro center back in 2019 while also having a reliable backup still under contract.

Just within the last few weeks, Frederick has provided encouraging updates on his status for next year. It looks like he'll be able to participate in all offseason activities, but the Cowboys would settle for Week One. There appears to be plenty of cushion for that to happen.

Travis' absence in 2018 was seen in various ways. Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times, second-most in all the league, after just 32 and 25 times the previous two seasons. Part of that is missing Frederick's blocking ability, but also the way he would assist with reading the defense and making pre-snap adjustments.

Dallas would've loved having Frederick out there to help Guard Connor Williams, who worked with Travis throughout the offseason only to lose him in late August. It was not an easy way for the rookie to start his career.

We also saw issues in the run game. Even while Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing, short-yardage situations weren't as easy as they used to be. The Rams were able to neutralize the Cowboys' rushing attack in Dallas' playoff loss, something that Frederick might have helped overcome.

Joe Looney

Dallas Cowboys G/C Joe Looney

This isn't saying that Joe Looney did a bad job. On the contrary, Looney was more than adequate and helped keep Dallas from suffering far greater damage without Frederick.

After Joe's work in 2018, Dallas won't blink at keeping him on the $1 million salary he's due next year. It's a bargain for a backup of his quality, and especially given his versatility as an option at guard as well.

Not only are Frederick and Looney locked in for 2019, but Dallas also still has backup Adam Redmond under contract through next season. He was added after final cuts last year to be Looney's backup and should return to at least help the team through July and August.

With these guys already in place, there's no reason to think that Dallas will give much attention to the center position during the offseason.

At most, a mid-round draft pick might be used on a player who could potentially replace Looney in 2020 as the backup. Joe's contract ends next season, and he could be competitive for starting jobs with other teams at that point.

With lots of other concerns throughout the roster, Dallas is fortunate to have so much security at center. All signs are positive on Travis Frederick's return, and that is a huge boost to the team as it looks to push forward from last year's playoff run.



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