IRVING, Texas – He might have missed the early portion of the offseason program, but Orlando Scandrick was confident his contract would work itself out.
"I don't think there was ever really much panic from my side. There was really no sweat from my end," Scandrick said. "I was working out, I was preparing to play, and everything took care of itself."
It certainly did. After a brief negotiation, the Cowboys rewarded their top corner with a one-year, $9.5 million extension last week. The former fifth-round pick now figures to be a Dallas staple for the foreseeable future, as he's now under contract through the 2019 season.
"This is my eighth year. I just feel like throughout this process, I've gotten better and better over these last few years," he said. "I feel like there's still room for me to get better, so I'm going to continue to work toward getting better."
If his new contract numbers didn't indicate that, his stats over the past few years should. Scandrick's past two seasons have been the best of his careers, as he has set career highs for tackles – 64 in 2013 and 63 in 2014 – and interceptions, with two in each of the past two years.
The Cowboys could potentially need the veteran now more than ever, depending on how the next few months shake out. One way or another, it's still widely expected the club will have contract negotiations with Brandon Carr, who is set to count $12 million against the salary cap this year. On top of that, it's still unclear how healthy Morris Claiborne will be when training camp rolls around.
It's not unfair to say Scandrick is the Cowboys' closest thing to a sure thing at the cornerback spot as the team dives into OTAs and minicamp. To that end, the focal point on improving under second-year defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli isn't surprising. Dallas jumped from 32nd in total defense in 2013 to 19th in 2014, and the Cowboys are no doubt aiming for another jump.
"We're going to go out here and work every day. We're going to continue to work on our craft to be a dominant defense, to be able to be the defense that this team can lean on when we need to," Scandrick said. "Our offense ain't always going to score 40 points and get 500 yards of offense. We just need to be able to be stable and just have guys play hard and just work towards being dominant."
Scandrick will be one of the key pieces charged with that improvement, which should make the Cowboys coaching staff happy to have him back in the fold – not to mention Scandrick himself.
"I'm happy to be back," he said. "I missed it. I missed all of this – looking forward to this season."