Dallas Cowboys: Antonio Cromartie

Trade Mo Claiborne? No thanks

April, 1, 2014
Apr 1
IRVING, Texas -- The DeSean Jackson trade talks that never went anywhere got ESPN Insider Field Yates to think about some trades that should happen. Insider

Yates has one for the Dallas Cowboys, sending cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams.

He writes:
Dallas Cowboys trade cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Arizona Cardinals for defensive tackle Dan Williams

Why it works for Arizona: Claiborne's NFL struggles are hard to figure after he starred at LSU, but his natural abilities are still enticing. The team added depth in the secondary with Antonio Cromartie this offseason, but Claiborne would bring higher upside playing alongside former LSU teammates Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Peterson also happens to be a free agent next offseason, and while the Cardinals are angling to keep him around long term, a rejuvenated Claiborne would give them insurance in case Peterson ends up elsewhere.

Why it works for Dallas: Claiborne is the Cowboys' third cornerback right now and has disappointed. The team has had better luck adding cornerbacks in free agency than through the draft and is desperate for big bodies along the defensive line. Williams has just one year left on his deal, but he presents an intriguing size and strength combination next to Henry Melton, a penetrating interior force. It may not be the most natural fit in what Dallas does defensively due to Williams' lack of quickness, but his ability to clog space would provide an upgrade against the run.

Maybe this could happen but it definitely won’t happen, and we’re not talking about any salary-cap issues that could hinder a deal. The Cowboys are not about to give up on Claiborne, whom they moved up to the sixth pick in the 2012 draft to select. And Williams does not bring enough value in return. He’s in the last year of his contract. The Cowboys control Claiborne’s rights for another two years.

This is a huge year for Claiborne, who has yet to flash the potential most people thought he had coming into the draft. Maybe it has been health. Maybe it has been scheme. Maybe it has been a lack of confidence. Maybe it’s all of the above.

But for the Cowboys to get the benefit of the trade up to get him, Claiborne has to come through in a big way in 2014. For them, not for the Cardinals -- or anybody else.

DeMarcus Ware won't guarantee a Cowboys win

November, 8, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware isn't Antonio Cromartie.

The New York Jets cornerback said his team, despite its 3-5 record, is going to the playoffs.

Jets coach Rex Ryan backed up the boast.

The Cowboys are 3-5 heading into a possible season-saving game at the Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) on Sunday. Ware was asked if he would guarantee a victory.

"Hell naw. Get that out of here," Ware said while laughing.

Asked about guaranteeing a playoff berth like Cromartie did, Ware said, "That's them. I know when to keep my mouth shut. I just get out there and play."

Ware said the Cowboys are playing just like their record and it's time to get things going in a positive direction.

"Right now we’re a 3-5 team," Ware said. "That's what our record tells us that we are and there’s no ifs, ands and buts about it. Yeah, we can we play better, but we haven’t played better in those games that we lost. So we got to sort of figure out, I feel like that we have, going into this week, of how to execute and how to play a better game and figure out how to change those Ls to Ws."

Ware said he doesn't believe his team should have any special team meetings or be in a desperation mode given where the Cowboys are in their season.

"I wouldn’t say desperate, either the time is now or never," Ware said. "We do have our backs to the wall and it’s not a panic time, it’s a time you got to push back and you can’t be playing like we’ve been playing. We have to have some type of results."

Five-star answer: 49ers don't have a Revis

September, 15, 2011
This week's question: Is this the week Miles Austin gets 100 receiving yards?

After struggling throughout the preseason with a hamstring injury, Miles Austin was outstanding last weekend against the Jets. In my book, Garrett and the staff made a mistake by not putting the football in his hands down the stretch.

Garrett and the Cowboys had the matchup they needed but didn’t take advantage of it. Dez Bryant, who was banged up both mentally and physically, was put in situation where he was asked to make plays but couldn't deliver against the Jets' best defensive player. In his condition, Bryant wasn't going to beat Revis. The more you watched him play in the second half, the more you understood this.

The bottom line was that Antonio Cromartie simply could not cover Austin. I do not see Garrett making that same mistake this week vs. the 49ers. The most difficult situation for the Cowboys is when Bryant doesn’t practice and he doesn’t get the reps. Bryant needs these reps to have a chance to be successful, because he's not at that point in his development where he can miss practice and jump right into the game plan. He needs to be drilled and he needs to be coached. Bryant should play against the 49ers, but Austin will have the offensive success.

I look for the Cowboys' offensive line to be able to protect Romo, giving him the necessary time to deliver the ball downfield. The 49ers' most talented position is at linebacker, not corner. The 49ers line up at corner with Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock at the nickel. Brown played the best last week against the Seahawks, and Rogers has gone against the Cowboys before while with the Redskins. It goes without saying, but there is no Darrelle Revis in this group and I can see Garrett taking advantage of that this week After last week's final interception, look for Romo to be even more committed to getting Austin the ball and the 49ers looking for ways to stop him.

Austin gets his 100 yards.

Detailing Dez Bryant: Week 1

September, 14, 2011
Dez Bryant’s development will be one of the more interesting, important storylines for the Cowboys this season, so we will track it on a throw-by-throw basis the Wednesday after each game.

42-YARD GAIN: On second-and-6 from the Dallas 41, Bryant lined up as the second of three receivers split to the right of the formation and got mismatched with inside linebacker David Harris. He got wide open on a slant, catching the ball near the sticks and turning a short throw into a big play. Bryant ran away from strong safety Eric Smith and juked free safety Jim Leonhard in the middle of the field as he sprinted to the left side. He spun off a downfield tackle attempt by cornerback Antonio Cromartie before Smith finally tackled him in the red zone.

3-YARD TOUCHDOWN: On third-and-goal from the New York 3, Bryant lined up wide left and ran a fade route. He made a spectacular, acrobatic catch over Cromartie on a ball that Tony Romo intentionally threw high and behind Bryant. It was a textbook back-shoulder fade for a touchdown, a perfect way to take advantage of Bryant’s strength and leaping ability.

26-YARD GAIN: On third-and-8 from the Dallas 48, he lined up wide right against Darrelle Revis and ran a streak route up the sideline after beating the jam. Romo recognized safety help coming over the top and threw to Bryant’s back shoulder. Bryant made a leaping catch near the sideline, the only play he made against the All-Pro cornerback.

INCOMPLETION: On third-and-10 from the New York 16, Bryant lined up wide right with Cromartie giving him an 8-yard cushion. With the blitz coming, Bryant took a couple of steps and cut inside. Romo’s quick throw sailed high with Cromartie closing on Bryant.

INCOMPLETION: On third-and-7 from the Dallas 47, Bryant lined up wide right against Revis, who blitzed. Bryant responded by running what was probably the sloppiest route run in the NFL all week. He turned toward Romo after two yards and started backpedaling diagonally and toward the first-down marker. Romo’s throw was behind Bryant, but he got his hands on the ball and failed to make the catch with cornerback Donald Strickland closing. Romo gave Bryant instructions immediately after the play.

INCOMPLETION: On third-and-22 from the Dallas 41, he lined up wide left against Revis and limped through a slant/corner route. Bryant, who was bothered by cramps and a bruised quad, never got any separation. Romo tried to force the downfield throw anyway. Bryant batted it down to prevent the pick.

INTERCEPTION: On first-and-10 from the Dallas 41, he lined up wide right and jogged upfield with Revis in trail position and a safety over the top. Bryant said he ran this route as instructed – and Romo backed the statement – but Bryant never made a cut or any play on the ball. It was an ill-advised pass that was easily intercepted by Revis to set up the game-winning field goal.

INCOMPLETION: On first-and-10 from the Dallas 34, Romo threw the ball out of bounds after recovering a shotgun snap that surprised him and bounced off his chest. It was officially recorded as a target for Bryant because he was the closest receiver.

Revis Island doesn't scare Dez Bryant

September, 7, 2011

IRVING, Texas -- Dez Bryant wanted to make something clear before chatting with the media: He doesn't talk about his opponents.

It didn't take much to get Bryant to bend his policy a bit. How can you not discuss the Jets' Darrelle Revis, who is widely recognized as the NFL's best cornerback?

"To tell the truth, I’m not the type of guy to single anybody out – no DB, nothing like that," Bryant said. "But it’s hard not to, because he’s great."

That isn't an indication that Bryant is intimidated by a trip to Revis Island. Bryant pointed out that "some guys made plays on him, some nice plays."

Bryant respects Revis and Antonio Cromartie, a former Pro Bowler who both makes and gives up a lot of big plays, but Bryant relishes the challenge of facing a pair of premier corners.

"I’ll tell you that they are great," Bryant said. "They’re some great DBs, probably the best. I mean, [they] are the best. But we’re all up for this matchup between our wideouts and their DBs. It’s going to be great."

Revis' ability to be physical with receivers is what most impresses Bryant.

"That’s how he plays the game, being physical all day," Bryant said. "Much respect for him. When you go against him, you’ve got to be on top of your game and know what you’re doing, because if you make a mistake, hey, there’s no telling. He might jump in front of it and pick it off."

Bryant happens to pride himself in being able to overpower most corners. That's one of many reasons the Bryant/Revis battles might be the most intriguing matchup in the NFL this week.

"Call it what you want," Bryant said, smiling. "Call it what you want."

NFC East free-agency breakdown

July, 26, 2011
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South Unrestricted FAs

A look at the free-agent priorities for each NFC East team:

New York Giants

1. Figure out which of their own guys to keep. With Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Mathias Kiwanuka, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss all set to potentially go free, the Giants have to prioritize and figure out which guys they're keeping. The top priority is probably going to be Bradshaw, an emerging star at running back, and it appears they'll let Cofield walk while trying to bring back Boss. They think the injury situations with Kiwanuka and Smith will help keep those guys' prices reasonable. But before the Giants hit the market, they'll need to get their own free-agent house in order.

2. Get at least one linebacker. The Giants have ignored this position over the past couple of years, and they seem to believe Jonathan Goff can handle the middle linebacker spot. They'd probably be better off moving him back outside and exploring the middle linebacker market, which includes Stephen Tulloch, Barrett Ruud and Paul Posluszny. But if they're set on keeping Goff in the middle, perhaps someone such as Manny Lawson or Nick Barnett could be a fit. It's one thing not to prioritize a position, but it's another to ignore it completely, and the Giants have been doing that with linebacker, to their detriment.

3. Some offensive line insurance. There were lots of injuries along the line in New York last season, and although it didn't kill them, it was a potential sign of things to come. The Giants hope Will Beatty will soon be ready to take over at left tackle for a declining David Diehl, but they must watch out for the health of Shaun O'Hara at center. And if they have to cut Shawn Andrews to sign some other guys, they'll need to replace him with a tackle who can provide depth.

Top five free agents: RB Bradshaw, DE/LB Kiwanuka, TE Boss, DT Cofield, WR Smith

Philadelphia Eagles

1. Settle the Kevin Kolb situation. If they can get the great deal for him that most believe they can (i.e., a first-round pick plus), the Eagles will deal Kolb and look for a reliable backup quarterback who can play if and when Michael Vick gets hurt. If they can't get good value for Kolb, they'll probably keep him to serve as said reliable backup. A trade is most likely, but whatever happens, the Eagles will probably settle this soon after the league year begins.

2. Sign a cornerback. The starting spot opposite Asante Samuel is open, and no one on the current roster appears able to fill it. That's why you've heard, and will continue to hear, the Eagles connected with Asomugha. Philadelphia must rank among his most likely destinations at this point. If they don't get him, they'll look down the list at guys such as Johnathan Joseph, Ike Taylor and Antonio Cromartie. And there's a chance they could get a cornerback for Kolb. But they'll get one somewhere.

3. Re-sign Stewart Bradley. Sure, they could let Bradley go and play Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker. Chaney looked, at least, capable in that spot last season and may be the Eagles' future at the position. But if Bradley leaves, the Eagles' problems will be about more than just the alignment of the linebackers. They'll actually be short on bodies and will need to play the free-agent field to find a replacement. Bradley's had injury problems, but when healthy, he's the Eagles' best linebacker and could be a key cog in whatever new defensive alignment Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn are cooking up.

Top five free agents: LB Bradley, S Mikell, G Nick Cole, RB Jerome Harrison, CB Ellis Hobbs

Washington Redskins

1. Fill out the defensive line. Whether they add a free-agent nose tackle such as Aubrayo Franklin or look at defensive end options like Jenkins, the Redskins must figure who their starting defensive linemen are. They like their linebacking corps, and although they also need a cornerback, they love their safeties with Oshiomogho Atogwe in the fold next to LaRon Landry. But their good, young outside linebackers will need big, space-eating ends in front of them to open up lanes to the passer. And they'll also need to get some sort of pass rush from the line, whether it's from the nose or the ends.

2. Re-sign Santana Moss. The Redskins are making noise about pursuing a big-time wideout such as Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice. But the reality is that it's going to be tough to convince receivers to sign in Washington while they're not viewed as a contender and the quarterback situation remains so cloudy. Moss likes it in Washington. The Redskins like him. And he's a nice guy to have around to help out young receivers Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson -- not to mention inexperienced quarterback John Beck.

3. Resolve the Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth situations. They don't want either player on the team anymore, but the question is how to get rid of them. They might be able to dump McNabb for a late-round draft pick, but if they can't, they'll probably just cut him and let him find his next job on his own. Haynesworth has trade value in a league where many 4-3 teams are looking for interior defensive line help. Don't expect the Redskins to cut Haynesworth, because they don't want to do him any favors and they don't want him free to sign with former Tennessee D-line coach Washburn in Philadelphia. If they can't get value for him, don't be surprised if Haynesworth remains on the team all season and has a hard time getting into games.

Top five free agents: WR Moss, OT Jammal Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, LB Rocky McIntosh, QB Rex Grossman

Quiet free agent weekend for Cowboys

March, 7, 2010
The Cowboys have done nothing in free agency.

It's not a big deal because the team normally doesn't make a splash the first day, or even the first weekend, of free agency.

The last time the Cowboys made news with free agency was 2006, Bill Parcells' first season, when six players were signed. Only one of those players, Kyle Kosier, is still with the team. Kicker Mike Vanderjagt is out of the league, and Akin Ayodele was recently cut by the Dolphins.

The Cowboys were not going to become major players in this market.

They weren't going to go after Julius Peppers, who signed with the Bears.

You could ask why the Cowboys wouldn't go after Brandon Marshall, a player they like. Well, the team is already committed close to $13 million in guaranteed money to wide receiver Roy Williams, whether he's on the team or not. So, why get Marshall?

Antonio Cromartie's name was floated about in terms of a trade with the Cowboys. To get Cromartie, the rumors had the Cowboys giving up one of their three running backs, something team vice president Stephen Jones said wasn't going to happen. The Chargers ended up sending Cromartie to the Jets for a future third-round pick that could become a second-round pick.

Jerry Jones believes that the 2009 draft class, a disappointment due to the injuries it suffered, will bounce back and the upcoming draft is a place where this team can get younger and better.

Will the Cowboys sign somebody in free agency? Sure, but not right now.

Cromartie to Cowboys? It doesn't add up

February, 17, 2010
This rumor about the Chargers shopping cornerback Antonio Cromartie was confirmed by Chris Mortensen today.

San Diego wants a running back and, yes, the Cowboys have three quality ones, including starter Marion Barber.

But if the Chargers want Barber, they would have to pay him $4 million in guaranteed roster bonus money in addition to a base salary of $3.8 million for 2010. That's a lot of money for a player who hasn't stayed healthy since becoming the full-time starter in 2008 and has never had a 1000-yard season.

San Diego could rework the contract, at least the base salary.

Now, say the Cowboys give up Tashard Choice.

Ben Dogra, Choice's agent, said last week he hasn't heard anything regarding a trade. The Cowboys' coaches like Choice's speed and ability to block on third down. And he's a more complete back than Felix Jones.

Well, the Cowboys love Jones' speed and ability to make people miss and wouldn't give up on a first-round pick so soon.

Now, to have three running backs is a bit much. It's probably too much for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to handle. But with injuries occurring to all three backs at some point in the last two seasons, keeping all three is a benefit.

At least for right now.

Dallas' scouts are looking at running backs in the upcoming draft in case a move does happen.

Ok, so why would the Cowboys want Cromartie?

Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins are both coming off Pro Bowl seasons. Salary-wise, Newman is owed $9 million in a base salary in 2010.

Do you start Cromartie over Newman?

Do you start Cromartie over Jenkins?

Do you make Cromartie the third-down corner over Orlando Scandrick, a young player the Cowboys like and are projecting as a starter in a year or two?

A deal for Cromartie just doesn't make sense given what the Cowboys have on their roster right now.

Jerry Jones has said the team will not rest and will put forth an effort to improve, despite winning its first playoff game since 1996. But Jones said the team won't do anything rash.