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Dallas Cowboys Free Agents: Cortland Finnegan or Brandon Carr?

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 02:  Cornerback Cortland Finnegan #31 of the Tennessee Titans hits quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Jonathan BalesAnalyst IFebruary 29, 2012

My article on the NFL’s top 20 guards was posted on ESPN again here. I will continue my position rankings in the coming weeks, as time allows between draft coverage.

Today, I want to take a look at the Cowboys’ cornerback situation. At pick No. 14, the team is in a good spot to select either Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick (who might be on the board) or North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins (who should definitely be on the board). I did a scouting report on Jenkins here.

With so many needs, though, the Cowboys could look to free agency to fill the hole at cornerback. I think that’s the prudent move, as the abundance of quality cornerbacks on the market will lower the price for a second-tier guy like Brandon Carr.

I did an article a couple weeks ago on why Carr should be the Cowboys’ top free agent target. Shortly after that was published, the team was linked to Carr. Now, Dallas is rumored to have interest in both he and Cortland Finnegan. Here is why the former Kansas City cornerback is the better fit. . .

Both cornerbacks are extremely talented and had excellent seasons in 2011. There’s no doubt Finnegan is superior to Carr against the run. Although he missed a slightly higher percentage of tackles, that’s really only because he’s in position to make more. Although small (5’10”, 192 pounds), Finnegan is extremely physical. He would bring a much-needed nastiness to the Dallas defense.

In my opinion, though, Carr is the better cover man. The 49.4 percent completion rate he allowed in 2011 was stellar, but more importantly, he’s a playmaker. He will jump routes and create havoc for an offense.  

At this point, the Cowboys desperately need a cornerback who possesses wide receiver-like ball skills.

The Cowboys really can’t go wrong with either player, but Carr is the superior option for two reasons. First, he will probably cost less than Finnegan. This isn’t a certainty, but I’m getting the sense Finnegan might surpass even Brent Grimes as the market’s richest cornerback in 2012.

Secondly, Finnegan is 28 years old. This is by no means over the hill, but he will probably be about 33 when his contract ends, and thus likely not playing at a level which merits the money he will receive.  

Carr, on the other hand, is just 25.  At the end of his deal, he’ll be in the prime of his career. All things being equal, go with the younger, cheaper player.

 

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