Loss of Brandon Carr in Free Agency Extends Beyond Defensive Backfield
The Cowboys now have a gaping hole in their defensive backfield with news on Thursday that starting cornerback Brandon Carr has reached agreement on a 4-year deal with the Ravens and starting cornerback Morris Claiborne is near an agreement on a deal with the Jets. Losing two cornerbacks comes a week after starting safety Barry Church and backup safety J.J. Wilcox bolted in free agency for the Jaguars and Bucs, respectively.
The loss of Carr, a stalwart who has started all 144 regular season games in his 9 year NFL career – the past five with the Cowboys – extends well beyond the defensive backfield. Not only was he a team leader in the locker room, he is the MVP of charitable and community work.
If you think the Cowboys coaches will be sorry to see him go, I can guarantee you their sorrow will be matched (maybe exceeded) by that of the team’s P.R. and community relations staff. No player has done more in the community on his own time than Carr who has been the go-to guy for the community relations department.
As the Cowboys sideline reporter who emcees and/or reports on various events around town, I promise you that Carr has been involved in a majority of the events or charitable endeavors over the past five seasons. No person has been more deserving of the team’s nomination for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year.
That statement is not a slight to Jason Witten who won the league-wide award in 2012. What Jason and his wife, Michelle, have done with the Jason Witten S.C.O.R.E. Foundation to help victims of domestic abuse is rightfully lauded. They deserve all the respect in the world for their tireless work which continues to grow year-by-year.
Sean Lee was the Cowboys’ 2016 nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Like Witten, Lee is a worthy nominee who gives selflessly. But my bet is that Witten and Lee would both tip their cap to Carr and say that he is deserving of league-wide honors.
Carr is a 3-time Cowboys’ Man of the Year winner, most recently for the 2015 season. Although he never won for the entire league, his picture and name should be part of the mural at The Star in Frisco which shows the Cowboys’ three previous winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award (Roger Staubach ’78; Troy Aikman ’97; Jason Witten ’12).
Fans didn’t know about all those Monday afternoons – the players’ day off – when Carr was reading to local school kids as part of his Carr Cares Foundation which promotes literacy. They may have read some features about him going home to Flint, Michigan to help with that city’s water crisis last year. But that was just part of the story. Carr has done for school kids in his hometown in Flint what he’s done for kids here in North Texas: devote countless hours and energy to promoting literacy and school work and healthy habits. I was only there for about a quarter of those events; he did them all the time.
And if there were an event that didn’t specifically apply to his Carr Cares Foundation mission statement of helping kids learn and providing them assistance, the community relations staff knew he was still willing to make time to help no matter the cause. This applies to offseason as well as in-season.
I wish media did a better job of reporting off-the-field work by players. Yes, fans care about on-field product. They want a team that wins, not necessarily a team full of choir boys. But the loss of Carr to the Ravens is a loss for our North Texas Community and a win for the city of Baltimore.
The written stories and talk radio notes about Carr’s departure will focus on whether or not he lived up to his original 5-year, $50.1m contract signed in free agency with the Cowboys in 2012. They’ll point out 7 interceptions in five seasons in Dallas and say he wasn’t worth $10m per season.
I won’t call anyone who signs for $10m per year a “victim”, but Carr became a “victim of expectations” when he signed that huge deal. Unfortunately, some fans focus mainly on stats, and the most obvious statistic for a cornerback is interceptions. They sometimes look past his durability and consistency. In 2016 he picked off only one pass, but tied for the team lead in breakups (10) and was fifth in tackles (56). What about shutting down AJ Green and limiting him to 50 yards? Those kinds of efforts aren’t reflected in statistics.
Carr has been the most dependable and consistent player for the Cowboys defense over the past 5 seasons. His on-field consistency and solid production will be sorely missed. But he’ll be missed even more off-the-field because very few players in the history of the franchise have been as committed to the community (and consistent in that commitment) than Brandon Carr.
Count me as one of the members of the Cowboys family that is sad to see him go.