Dallas Cowboys Have Big Changes Coming At Cornerback


When the Dallas Cowboys take the field for the first game of the 2015 season, the defense will look a lot different compared to the last game they played at Green Bay. The 2015 NFL Draft will go a long ways in determining how much different.

For starters, starting left corner Brandon Carr’s days as a Cowboy could be numbered. Carr is scheduled for a huge hit on the Cowboys cap in 2015 as a result of an unfortunate free agent signing in 2012.

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The Cowboys undoubtedly wish they could get a mulligan on that decision. Carr is slated to count $12.7 million dollars against the cap in 2015 and a whopping $13.8 million in 2016.

If the Cowboys designate Carr as a June release, they can save more than half of that 2015 hit on this year’s cap but suffer the consequences of that ill-fated contract with a $7 million dead money hit in 2016.

Vice President Stephen Jones and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have made aggressive statements about Carr since the end of season. Jones even going so far as to say this, “any time we can make adjustments that gives us more cap room that can be very appealing. That’s Carr.”

Stephen Jones backed off slightly at the NFL’s spring meetings. He was most likely just attempting to cool down the rhetoric and speculation surrounding Carr.

Carr’s issues at corner started with the Cowboys asking him to play a lot of off coverage, zone coverage and bail technique in 2012. Perplexing as it was, that continued in 2013 with former defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Carr played much more man and press coverage in 2015 with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli calling the shots.

That resulted in rising confidence from Carr and by all accounts his played improved at the end of season and in the playoffs. Much like the starting left tackle Doug Free’s situation two years ago, if Carr is released he will not come close to getting an offer from another team for 2015 and 2016 for what he will make from the Cowboys which is $8 million in base salary.

The June release is a weapon clubs have used to free themselves of big cap hits on unproductive players with fat contracts. Conventional wisdom says Carr would get about $3 million playing elsewhere. That leaves him the obvious option of taking a pay cut from the Cowboys.

The question is whether the Cowboys are willing to take the shot in the gut of the dead money. With rookie contracts much less impactful in the current NFL, especially for a bottom of the first round pick, the Cowboys may be willing to write Carr off as a mistake and move on.

There is one thing for sure about Carr, mark it down. He will not be the starting left corner in 2015 for the Dallas Cowboys. Barring some unforeseen injury situation, that role will go to the Cowboys rising star cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

Carr will be moved to right corner in 2015, if he stays with the team. Newly acquired cornerback Corey White will play the slot with a possible first round pick backing up Scandrick and second year corner Tyler Patmon backing up Carr.

If the Cowboys select a first round cornerback like a Kevin Johnson out of Wake Forest for example, Carr will undoubtedly become more expendable. There is no doubt if the Cowboys stay at pick twenty seven, they will have a choice of a top tier cornerback.

Carr’s fate and his contract situation is then tied very closely to the draft. If the Cowboys are successful in acquiring Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Carr’s June release would be one option they have to absorb Peterson’s cap hit for 2015. The other would be signing wide receiver Dez Bryant to a long term deal, thus reducing his big 2015 cap hit.

If the Cowboys draft an impact defensive lineman that can pressure the opposing quarterback that will automatically improve the secondary. With no pressure on the quarterback, it doesn’t take an elite passer to rip apart a secondary that has a glaring weakness at corner like the Cowboys have had in recent years.

Carr’s fate could also be tied to the rehab progress of Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne.

We now know Claiborne’s injuries are much more significant than the Cowboys initially led us to believe. If Claiborne is unable to be projected as a healthy contributor in 2015, the Cowboys may be forced to keep Carr for depth.

All of these moving parts are fascinating because each piece of the puzzle is connected to the other. This will be the most interesting draft the Cowboys have had since former Dallas head coach Bill Parcells’ first draft when he selected Marcus Spears and DeMarcus Ware in the first round in 2005. Fasten your seat belts. Reality TV doesn’t get any better than this.

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