IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys brought back yet another of their free agents on Friday afternoon, as they agreed to a one-year contract with cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Formerly the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL draft, Claiborne was one of the most high-profile free agents the Cowboys were negotiating with. The Cowboys traded up eight spots in the 2012 NFL Draft to select him, dealing away a second-round pick in the process.
This contract, which is reportedly worth about $3 million with a maximum value of $3.75 million will be much more palatable to the Cowboys than the one Claiborne signed as a rookie. In fact, it saves the club roughly $8 million. Had the Cowboys picked up the fifth-year option on Claiborne's rookie contract, it would have cost them $11.9 million
Injuries have played a large role in Claibrone's star-crossed career to this point. He has appeared in just 40 of 66 possible career games. He played 15 games as a rookie, but he was unable to appear in more than 11 contests in each of the following three seasons. The most notable disappointment was 2014, when Claiborne was benched in favor of Orlando Scandrick – only to tear his patellar tendon the following week, ultimately missing 14 of the Cowboys' 18 games that year.
Given those setbacks, it's understandable why the Cowboys opted not to pick up that gaudy fifth-year option ahead of Claiborne's contract year. He wasn't spectacular last fall, but he enjoyed arguably the best season of his career to date. His year did end on a sour note, however, as he missed the last three games of the season with a hamstring injury.
Re-signing Claiborne at least helps clear up some of the uncertainty in the Dallas secondary. He has been one of the Cowboys' top three cornerbacks in each of the last four seasons, and there was a sizable need without his presence on the roster.
That's not to say the Cowboys won't continue to look at the position, however. Philadelphia cornerback Nolan Carroll visited the team's facility on Thursday, and veteran corner Josh Thomas re-signed as well. The Cowboys have also been linked to standout defensive back Jalen Ramsey in the NFL draft, and there's no shortage of speculation that the team might look to reduce Brandon Carr's salary – if not release him altogether.[embeddedad0]
It remains to be seen how most of that will play out. For the time being, Claiborne at least gives them breathing room at a thin position.