Is Morris Claiborne a Browns Trade Target?
The Cleveland Browns have settled in to their bye week with very little news of note. We will spend much of the rest of this week evaluating where the Browns stand heading into the rest of their schedule, including how different units on the team have performed compared to expectations. Today came news that Morris Claiborne, the 6th overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys a few years back, has been demoted and left the team due to frustrations, according to CBS Sports:
"When Claiborne was informed of the demotion, he “skipped the Dallas Cowboys‘ walk-through practice and angrily left the club’s Valley Ranch training facility,” according to ESPNDallas.com‘s Jean-Jacques Taylor."
Claiborne has reportedly returned to the Cowboys after his walk out yesterday but could the Cowboys look to get out of their relationship with the often struggling corner? If so should the Cleveland Browns make a trade for him? So far there has been little to no linkage between the Browns and Claiborne.
Claiborne was such a high pick after a stellar career at LSU. He was partnered with stud corner Patrick Peterson at one point and hybrid defensive back Tyrann Mathieu as well.
Coming out of college Claiborne was considered a can’t miss prospect with long, strong arms, quick hips and great speed. His football IQ was considered high but his leaked Wonderlic test scores were extremely low.
As seen in this video below, of LSU’s game with Alabama, Claiborne was considered a no doubt NFL guy and played as such for most of the game.
However his time in the NFL has not been as successful as evident by his benching this week.
Yet could Claiborne be a victim of the circumstances in Dallas? Since entering the league in 2012 he has had 3 defensive coordinators. First it was Rob Ryan and his creative, UFO type schemes. Then he played in the Tampa 2 under Monte Kiffin and now he is under Rod Marinelli. While Kiffin and Marinelli have similar systems it is still another transition for the former first round pick.
Neither of the past two coaches have played to Claiborne’s strength at the line of scrimmage either. Give Claiborne a chance to play press man and trail and he tends to excel. With the Cowboys, especially with their lack of pass rush, corners are likely to struggle no matter what. Claiborne has especially done so.
A change of scenery and scheme would be huge for him. Going someplace that wants him and would play to his strength could alter the direction of his career. Could Cleveland be that place?
The Browns don’t have an obvious need at corner but are coached by Mike Pettine who loves his cornerbacks. The scheme in Cleveland is the exact scheme that Claiborne would excel in, as he did in college. With the Browns he would be brought in across from All Pro, but not playing like it so far this year, Joe Haden as well as Buster Skrine and rookie first rounder Justin Gilbert. Claiborne’s presence could take pressure off of the rookie.
Pettine has even gone to playing Jordan Poyer, a safety, on passing situations. Claiborne should be a clear upgrade over Poyer in coverage. The Browns would have some confidence rehabbing to do with Claiborne but depending on the price the risk could be worth it.
Because he was drafted under the new CBA, Claiborne’s contract would not get in the way of a trade. Next year, the last under his deal is worth just over $2 million. The price that is a concern is what Dallas would want in exchange for their struggling corner.
Jerry Jones is a tough negotiator but his comments on Claiborne show that he has little confidence in the player. Moving him now, before his value goes even lower, could benefit the Cowboys. The Browns have a plethora of picks, as well as some depth on their defensive line, that they could make available. A trade of a conditional 4th round pick, since the Browns have an extra from the Bills, could interest the Cowboys.
An extreme trade could possibly be worked out with Jerry Jones getting his hands on Johnny Manziel as a part of a much bigger trade. Manziel and a 5th for Claiborne and the Cowboys 1st rounder could work out for everyone involved.
We don’t expect Manziel to be traded, period, and if he is it is far more likely after each season than during. However if Pettine sees a stud, cheap corner and another 1st rounder in exchange for Manziel he could push hard for the trade.
Claiborne is likely to stay in Dallas and if the Browns do make a move for him that 4th round pick makes some sense. Pettine and Ray Farmer have to decide whether they think Claiborne can overcome whatever has plagued him in Dallas and if the team wants to put more resources into the defensive backfield. A dime package of Haden, Skrine, Claiborne and Gilbert, along with Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner could be very enticing.
What do you think about Claiborne’s chances of turning his career around?