Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys have decisions to make in their defensive backfield

Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) could leave in free agency after five injured-plauged seasons in Dallas.
Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) could leave in free agency after five injured-plauged seasons in Dallas. jchristopher@star-telegram.com

Two of the three cornerbacks the Cowboys began the season listing as starters become free agents next week as are two safeties who have been starters.

Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox have combined for 339 games and 288 starts for the Cowboys.

“I think the biggest thing we try to do is evaluate the players and what they’ve done for us, where they are going forward,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Part of this process is what the value is – what the value is around the league and how other people see it. If we can fit them into the slots that we need, certain guys are more attractive than others – not only because of what they’ve done but because of what their value is in free agency.”

The Cowboys likely re-sign only one cornerback and one safety, losing the other two in free agency. Church was a captain last season and started 12 games, so he seems the more likely target since Wilcox started only the four games Church missed.

Wilcox likely gets a bigger deal in free agency than the salary-capped Cowboys can afford.

Brandon Carr never lived up to the five-year, $50.1 million deal the Cowboys signed him to in 2012, making only seven interceptions in five seasons. However, he never missed a game, starting all 80 in Dallas.

The Cowboys used the sixth overall pick on Claiborne in 2012. Although he had his best season in 2016, he missed nine games. Claiborne has missed 33 of a possible 80 games in his career.

The Cowboys had expected to lose Claiborne after last season, but his injury history prevented the cornerback from getting a long-term deal. He signed a one-year, $3 million deal after finding a soft market, which could happen again this offseason.

“Mo’s a good football player,” Garrett said. “The biggest issue that he’s had in his career is the health issue and the durability issue. Every injury he’s had has been legitimate; it’s been real injuries. We feel like he’s done a good job coming back from those injuries. We felt like he played his best football last year, prior to that injury later in the year. We think he’s the right kind of guy. We think he’s got a very bright future ahead of him. You factor those things in – is he durable enough, is he available enough? But there’s a lot to like about him.”