On the heels of the news that his former teammate, Brandon Flowers, had been released by the Kansas City Chiefs, the idea that the same thing could or should happen to the Dallas Cowboys starting cornerback Brandon Carr has been on the minds of some Cowboys fans. In fact, as an answer to a Twitter mailbag question, ESPN Dallas reporter Todd Archer believes it will actually happen. But only if Carr underperforms again in 2014.
“(Carr) is guaranteed $1 million this year now that he has been on the roster the first day of the league year. That’s the last of the guaranteed money. Yes, he will be gone if he doesn’t play well this season. If the Cowboys were to cut him in 2015, they would save only roughly $550,000. If they made him a June 1 cut, then it would free up $8 million in space in 2015, but Carr would count $7.4 million against the cap in 2016. To me, it would be better to not spread the hit over two years even though there wouldn’t be much savings. I’ll give Carr credit for how he has approached this offseason. He knows it is a big one for him. He has changed his approach to the offseason and dropped some weight in hopes of being faster. If he plays solidly, like he did in 2012, then maybe the Cowboys approach him with a pay cut. If he plays great, then I think you might see them restructure the deal potentially to open up cap room.”
Lauded as a savvy signing at the time, it did raise eyebrows when Carr inked a five-year, $50.1 million contract back in March of 2012 as a free agent. His entrance was ushered in by the poor play and exit of longtime Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman. Carr had spent his first four years in the league as a member of the Chiefs, after being their fifth round selection out of Grand Valley State in 2008’s NFL Draft. After recording 45 tackles, 11 passes defensed and four interceptions in 2011, Carr was considered the top cornerback prospect in free agency.
Despite accumulating 124 total tackles, 24 passes defended, six interceptions and two touchdowns in his two-year stint as a member of the Cowboys, Carr’s overall play struggled last season. The “low”light being a Week Eight loss to the Detroit Lions when wide receiver Calvin Johnson lit up Carr recording 14 receptions, 329 yards and one score in the one-point Lions victory. Many consider the recent defensive scheme change to a 4-3, Cover or Tampa 2-type defense as the main reason for his Carr’s decline. It is hoped that new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will better fit his scheme to his individual playing style.
Even if Carr is able to regain his Pro Bowl status from 2009, expect the Cowboys front office to come calling next offseason as it’s more than likely they will ask him to take a pay cut moving forward. Pro Football Focus ranks Carr as the 58th best cornerback in the league last season. That’s a very disappointing stat in itself. But it’s especially depressing considering that Overthetop.com lists him as the fourth highest paid cornerback in the NFL.
His starting teammate, Orlando Scandrick, is ranked ahead of Carr at #42 by PFF. In 2011, Scandrick signed a six-year $28 million deal. In December, the Cowboys extended that contract by two more years. He’ll be making $4.5 million this season as part that new deal. In 2015, that amount drops down to $1.5 million and then jumps up to $3 million per for each of the next three years.
Carr’s status with the Cowboys could also be determined by the play of third year cornerback Morris Claiborne. Dallas’ first round pick (6th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft, Claiborne has struggled with various injuries in his first two seasons. If the former LSU playmaker can finally start living up to his draft level, Carr and his enormous contract could be on the outs in 2015.