The Cowboys lost one of their most dependable defensive players last March when cornerback Brandon Carr signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Many fans were happy to see him go, never forgiving him for not living up to the massive free agent deal he got in the 2012 offseason. However, circumstances could quickly have fans wishing Carr was still around.
Carr not only never missed a game in five seasons with Dallas, but he hasn't missed one in his entire nine-year career. He has started in every game he's ever played since being a fifth-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. He's also been one of the NFL's model citizens and philanthropists.
The Cowboys go into 2017 with a lot of risk at the cornerback position. Veteran Orlando Scandrick has had two years of health issues. Newly-acquired veteran Nolan Carroll was arrested in May for a DWI and will likely be suspended for a few games. The other key players are Anthony Brown, only a second-year player, and two rookies in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.
I'm not saying Brandon Carr would never drive drunk or couldn't finally get an injury that costs him playing time, but his history says otherwise. While never spectacular, Carr is always a solid and available player. As Jerry Jones reminded us last year in an interview, availability is one the most important abilities any NFL player can have.
It's no surprise that fans turned on Carr. With only one interception from 2014-2016 and the highest salary cap hit on defense, plus the Cowboys general defensive woes, he was both an easy scapegoat and a legitimate cause for complaint. It didn't help when he was on the wrong end of Odell Beckham Jr's infamous one-handed catch in 2014, the closest a NFL player can get to being “posterized.”
Carr was never as good as his salary but also never as bad as fans made him out to be, and the 2017 season could easily have you wishing he was still a Cowboy. One injury, another conduct issue for Carroll, a sophomore slump for Brown, or a slow start for the rookies, and your Dallas defensive backfield may be in worse shape than last year.
Of course, Brandon turned 31 in May and that may have been reason enough to let him walk. However, another former Cowboys is still one of the league's best corners and he's about to turn 39-years-old. I've often looked at Terence Newman the last few years and wished he was still wearing the blue and white.
I just hope that circumstances in 2017 don't have me looking at Brandon Carr the same way.