MOBILE, Ala. – There might not be a position on the Cowboys' roster facing more uncertainty than cornerback this season.
The Cowboys' No. 6 overall pick in 2012, Morris Claiborne, tore his patellar tendon in September. Brandon Carr is scheduled to cost roughly $12 million toward the salary cap in 2015 after failing to log an interception last season. Sterling Moore is set to become a restricted free agent.
With so many uncertainties, it's bound to raise questions about the Cowboys' need at the position.
"I think it's there," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones at Senior Bowl practices on Wednesday. "We've got a high cap number with Carr that we've got to look at. I think Brandon has played well for us. I think he played better toward the back half of the year. Certainly we've got a situation, obviously, there with Mo and his injuries. We've got to look at that."
That line of questioning isn't surprising after Tuesday, when reporters asked team owner/general manager Jerry Jones if Claiborne had done enough for the team to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
"Yes. Yes I do," was his response.
That raised a few eyebrows, given Claiborne's star-crossed career since the Cowboys traded up to draft him in the top 10. He has battled injuries consistently in his three seasons, as he has only appeared in 29 of a possible 50 games since 2012.
He's also managed just three picks in three seasons with the team, as his game-sealing interception of Austin Davis in Week 3 was his last meaningful snap before the torn patellar sent him to injured reserve.
It's debatable if that kind of output would be deserving of a fifth-year option, which would net Claiborne somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million in 2016.
"It's something that we still have to look at. You know, Jerry is always going to compliment our players, I think he thinks more of our guys than anybody," Stephen Jones said. "But at the same time, when we sit down and take a look at what we have to do underneath our salary cap, that plays into it. So we have to look at his health, we have to really measure everything."
Claiborne's health for the offseason program is no guarantee, either. He had season-ending surgery back on Sept. 30, but as of the Cowboys' Week 11 bye week, he was using a crutch to move around and his main focus was simply on being able to walk.
Stephen Jones said it remains to be seen if the 24-year-old will be ready for training camp this summer.
"That's still to be determined," he said. "We've got to see how he recovers, how his rehab goes, how his progress is. We'll make those type of decisions accordingly."