EARTH CITY, Mo. -- When news broke that Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne had been demoted from the starting lineup and subsequently departed the team's facility in a huff, it didn't make much of a ripple around the St. Louis Rams.
But there's actually a deeper history involving Claiborne and the Rams than many realize. While the Rams' 2012 draft trade with the Washington Redskins centered on the No. 2 overall pick and Robert Griffin III, it's easy to forget about the second first-round trade the Rams made that year.
After moving down to No. 6, the Rams cut another deal as Claiborne, that draft's consensus top corner, fell to their spot. Although the Rams had brought Claiborne to St. Louis for a visit and showed interest in him, they weren't sold enough to make him their pick. Dallas, however, had no such qualms.
The Cowboys traded the No. 14 overall pick along with their second-round pick, No. 45 overall, to the Rams for No. 6. Dallas coveted Claiborne and the Rams decided to gamble that the object of their affection, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, would slip to them.
As it turned out, both teams got what they wanted. The Rams later traded the No. 45 overall pick to the Chicago Bears for the No. 50 pick and a fifth-round choice that they turned into running back Isaiah Pead and guard Rokevious Watkins. Neither of those choices has paid dividends for the Rams but the Bears took receiver Alshon Jeffery with the pick acquired from St. Louis.
Clearly, the move up for Claiborne hasn't been a good decision for the Cowboys, especially considering reports they would have taken Brockers at 14 and linebacker Bobby Wagner with that second-round pick. Wagner has thus far been better than both players in his first two-plus seasons.
Brockers, meanwhile, has been a solid if unspectacular pick so far for the Rams. If nothing else, he's a dependable starter who still boasts some upside, something that might be hard for Claiborne to claim moving forward.
Drawing the tie even closer, it's worth noting that Claiborne's blowup Wednesday came on the heels of a rough outing against the Rams on Sunday. He did make the game-sealing interception in the fourth quarter but that came after the Rams repeatedly targeted him for big plays. He allowed five catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns and was flagged for defensive holding in the Cowboys' victory.
In retrospect, the Rams could have done much better with the second-round pick acquired from Dallas but the Brockers selection alone makes them clear winners in the deal.