Free agent CB Brandon Carr should be tops on Cowboys’ wish list
Last week, I started writing a post on why the Cowboys should lay off free agent cornerback Stanford Routt, but I never got around to finishing it due to my ongoing draft coverage. Routt’s numbers aren’t horrendous (51.1% completion percentage and 5.66 YPA against), but he committed a ridiculous 17 penalties last season.
Penalties don’t show up in the statistics at which most fans look, but Routt often finds himself out of position. He substitutes costly penalties for passing yards. Actually, if he add the penalty yards Routt allowed to his pass defense totals, his YPA jumps almost three yards! Only one other cornerback (Brandon Browner) committed double-digit penalties in 2011.
And 2011 isn’t an aberration. Routt committed 10 penalties in 2010 and nine in 2009. There’s nothing that would drive Cowboys fans (and by ‘Cowboys fans,’ I mean me) crazy like incessant pass interference calls.
It appears Routt will sign with a team located outside of Dallas today, so ‘Boys fans should rejoice. One of the teams with whom Routt could sign in the coming hours is the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs will likely need to replace free agent Brandon Carr. In my opinion, Carr is light years ahead of Routt.
Let’s start by addressing the fact that Carr is pretty poor against the run and, if he comes to Big D, fans will need to anticipate dealing with a few missed tackles. It is going to happen. His cover skills will make up for it.
In 2011, Carr was targeted 79 times, giving up just 39 completions (49.4% completion rate) for 511 yards (6.47 YPA). Of cornerbacks who played more than half of their team’s snaps, the 61.7 passer rating Carr allowed was eighth-best in the NFL. He yielded three touchdowns to Routt’s nine, and three penalties to Routt’s 17.
2011 wasn’t simply a fluke for Carr, either. He allowed just 45.9% of the 111 passes his way to be completed in 2010, surrendering 7.15 YPA and a passer rating of 81.4. The fifth-year player out of Grand Valley State is improving each season.
For Dallas, Carr is exactly the sort of player the defense needs. In Rob Ryan’s blitz-happy scheme, the cornerbacks are forced to play a lot of man coverage. Carr is 6’0” tall and excels in a press position, using his long arms to disrupt receivers at the line. He’s versatile enough to play zone, and unlike Terence Newman, he has some ball skills.
The big question is how much money will Carr demand? At 25 years of age, there figures to be a lot of interest in his services. The Cowboys have a lot of money to spend this offseason, but with a variety of holes on the roster, it wouldn’t make sense to throw all of that cash into a single player.
The good news for the ‘Boys is that cornerbacks Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, William Gay, Carlos Rogers, Aaron Ross, Marcus Trufant and Tracy Porter are all unrestricted free agents. Most teams will have Grimes as their top cornerback, and he should command the most money. The depth of the free agent pool at the position should lower Carr’s market value.
Unless other squads deem Carr’s value in the top tier of cornerbacks, the Cowboys should outbid the competition and bring the young, talented cornerback to Dallas.