(Editor's Note: This is the fifth of an 11-part series analyzing every position on the Cowboys roster, providing a quick look back before addressing the needs of each spot on the field and how it can be improved heading into the 2016 season. Today we examine the cornerbacks.)
This time of year, all teams must start making decisions on potential free agents at all spots. At cornerback, the Cowboys have Morris Claiborne who will be an unrestricted free agent in March. At this point, it's likely he will test the market, considering the team already declined his fifth-year option. He owes that to himself but he did say after the season ended he would like to return to the Cowboys in 2016. This seems like the same situation the Cowboys were in last year, but the team needs to figure out the plan moving forward with Brandon Carr's contract. Also, the Cowboys should decide what they want to do with Byron Jones, who played both safety and corner this year. It might go into the summer until they figure out where he plays, likely depending on players that are added in free agency and/or the draft.
The loss of Scandrick was a big blow, and it affected the slot position, which started out with Tyler Patmon, but he was released before the end of the season. Brandon Carr played solid at times, as did Morris Claiborne, but the lack of interceptions and turnovers this team forced was a problem in every game but one (at Philadelphia, Week 2). No, they weren't allowing big plays on a routine basis, but they weren't making them as well.
Need More From …
This could probably go to just about all players on the roster, but in terms of cornerback, it has to be Orlando Scandrick. Now, it obviously wasn't his fault he missed all of last year with a torn ACL, but the Cowboys definitely need him to return to form in a major way. With the status of Carr and Claiborne uncertain, the Cowboys need Scandrick to step right back into his role as the team's best cover corner.
The Cowboys got some help near the end of the season at cornerback from a pair of unlikely contributors who could factor into the mix this season. Terrance Mitchell, a former Cowboys draft pick in 2014, returned late in the season and actually had the first interception by a cornerback all season. The next week in Buffalo, Deji Olatoye picked off a pass as well, saving a touchdown. Both players should get the chance to compete for playing time.
By The Numbers:
- Players drafted in the fifth round aren't always locks to make the team, especially ones from the Division II level. That's why Brandon Carr's streak of 131 games started is so impressive. Carr started all 16 games again in 2015, completing his eighth season of playing and starting every game.
- With just two interceptions by a cornerback this season, it marked the fewest amount of picks by Cowboys corners since the 1989 season. That year, which resulted in a 1-15 finish, the Cowboys also had just one interception by a cornerback (Ron Francis). The other six came from safeties and linebackers.