The Dallas Cowboys play the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. One of the Bengals' starting cornerbacks is former Cowboy Terence Newman, whose disappointing play down the stretch last year led the Cowboys not only to cut him loose but to spend a great deal of offseason energy on upgrading their cornerback position. They signed free-agent Brandon Carr to a $50.1 million contract, used their first-round and second-round draft picks to draft Morris Claiborne and relegated 2011 starter Mike Jenkins to a backup role, about which Jenkins was grumpy all offseason.
Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram raises an interesting comparison between the way Carr and Newman have played this year. His numbers, which you can see in the chart on the right side of his story, indicate that Newman has outplayed Carr in several key categories. I also checked the Pro Football Focus numbers, which rank Newman as the No. 29 cornerback in the league this year overall (a grade of +4.9) and the No. 33 cornerback in the league in coverage (+3.8). Those same numbers rank Carr as the No. 100 cornerback overall (a grade of -6.5) and 99th in coverage (-5.4). They rank Claiborne 63rd overall (-0.8) and 40th in coverage (+2.8).
Does this mean Newman's a better player than Carr? Or that Dallas wasted its money by letting Newman go and spending all that money on Carr? Of course not. It's entirely possible Newman's having a better season. It's entirely possible Carr is having the better season and that other rating systems would indicate as much. And there's no reason to second-guess the Cowboys' decision to let go of Newman and seek better options. Newman was terrible last year, and a major reason the Cowboys let their NFC East lead get away from them in December.
Just an interesting sidelight as Newman gets ready to see his old team Sunday. He's saying all the right things, which is no surprise:
"I mean a person can be bitter all they want, but it's not going to change anything," Newman said. "I'm happy, playing pretty well, winning football games, so that's my No. 1 focus. There’s no reason for me to be bitter. It’s months and months after the fact. It is what it is."
But you have to believe an interception in this game Sunday would make a guy like that happy, right? And as a Cowboys fan, you have to be hoping Carr shows up against A.J. Green and Newman gets hurdled by a Cowboys fullback in an act of karmic justice. But we shall see.