The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Articles: Cowboys’ 5 Worst Cap Values, Grade for Morris Claiborne

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My latest Running the Numbers piece is a look at the team’s worst cap-based values.

5. Brandon Carr: $14.3 million ($16.3 million)

Let me start by saying that Carr is an outstanding cornerback and in no way would the Cowboys even remotely consider letting him go. Carr allowed 7.4 YPA and came up with some major interceptions in his inaugural season in Dallas. My point is that salaries can sometimes be oddly-structured, and Carr’s $16.3 million cap charge in 2013 is a hefty sum. The next-highest cap charge for an individual season in Carr’s contract is only $11.1 million in 2016. Carr is worth the overall value of his deal, but he’ll need an All-Pro year to truly be worthy of his $14.3 million base salary in 2013.

Cut or Keep: Keep

4. Mackenzy Bernadeau: $1.8 million ($2.5 million)

I charged Bernadeau with allowing six sacks this year and I provided him with the worst pass protection grade (by far) in my 2012 offensive line review. Although the overall value of his four-year contract is only the 14th-highest in Dallas, I graded Bernadeau so low that he might not even be worth the roster spot.

Cut or Keep: Cut

3. Miles Austin: $6.7 million ($3.6 million now, $6.8 million after June 1)

Take a look at Austin’s yards-after-catch per reception over the past four seasons: 7.3, 6.3, 4.7, and 4.6. While some of the decline can be attributed to regression toward the mean (we’d never expect Austin to continue to average 7.3 YAC per reception, so some decrease is inevitable), it’s also clear that the receiver has lost a little something.

The Cowboys could potentially money by releasing Austin early in the offseason because his cap charge will rise after June 1, meaning his spot on the team in 2013 is far from a sure thing. Nonetheless, I think you’ll see him in Dallas next year simply because he’s still a really talented wide receiver. Players who stand 6’2’’, 220 pounds, run sub-4.5, and have 1,300-yard, double-digit touchdown seasons under their belts don’t grow on trees. The Cowboys will likely try to renegotiate with Austin, using the potential cap space they could retrieve if they release him early as leverage in their talks.

Check out the other two at DallasCowboys.com.

Earlier this week, I posted the team’s best values. That included Morris Claiborne, who I graded today at Dallas Morning News.

The Numbers

In the preseason, I made five bold defensive predictions for the Cowboys in 2012, one of which was that Claiborne should fall in the range of four interceptions and 60 tackles in his rookie campaign. The cornerback picked off only one pass, which is low for a top 10 cornerback, but he also registered 55 tackles.

The truth is that Claiborne’s bulk stats, including his interception total, weren’t as high as many anticipated because opposing quarterbacks didn’t target the rookie all that much. Claiborne was targeted only 69 times in 909 snaps this year; in comparison, Brandon Carr was thrown at 87 times in 1,043 snaps—a much higher rate than Claiborne.

When Claiborne was targeted, though, he lost on a regular basis. The rookie allowed a 69.6 percent completion rate and 8.28 YPA—about average for a starting cornerback. Claiborne also gave up a 107.8 passer rating, due mostly to his poor 1:4 interception-to-touchdown ratio.

Check out the final grade at DMN.

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