Brandon Carr's defining characteristic in his NFL career has been his durability. The veteran cornerback has never missed a game in nine seasons, making 144 consecutive starts during that span.
For a Ravens team that has had a hard time finding starting-caliber cover guys — and keeping the cornerbacks that they do have healthy — Carr represents a much needed addition.
After being linked to free agent cornerback Morris Claiborne for the past week, the Ravens wound up hammering out a deal with his former Dallas Cowboys teammate. Carr, who agreed in principle to a four-year pact and will be in Baltimore early next week to take his physical and sign his contract, represents the Ravens’ latest move to bolster their secondary.
Just moments after the Ravens announced the agreement with Carr, Claiborne reportedly committed to the New York Jets.
“This is a good football player,” Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said of Carr in a statement released by the team. “We got better today.”
Exact terms of the deal aren’t immediately known, but ESPN reported that it was essentially a one-year deal with a series of options that could make the contract worth $24 million over the course of four years. Carr will turn 31 in May.
Carr’s addition continues the Ravens’ efforts to revamp their secondary. On the first day of free agency last week, they agreed to a four-year deal with safety Tony Jefferson, who will play alongside Eric Weddle. They have already released cornerback Shareece Wright, a nine-game starter last year, and safeties Lardarius Webb and Kendrick Lewis.
Now they’ve added a cornerback to pair on the outside with oft-injured Jimmy Smith. The signing will allow Tavon Young, the 5-foot-9 corner who had a solid rookie season, to play more in the slot, and it won’t preclude the team from taking a cornerback early in April’s draft. Analysts have said this is one of the deepest cornerback draft classes in years.
Even with Carr, the Ravens still could use some more depth at cornerback. Behind their projected top three of Smith, Carr and Young, the Ravens have a group of corners that includes Kyle Arrington, Maurice Canady, Sheldon Price and Robertson Daniel. Arrington, a veteran, is not expected to return this year after he missed all of last season with a concussion.
It was widely believed that the Ravens were homed in on Claiborne, the No. 6 overall pick by the Cowboys in 2012. Claiborne has struggled to reach his potential in Dallas, primarily because of injuries. He has played more than 11 games in just one of his five NFL seasons. He was playing the best football if his career last year, but his season ended after just seven games because of a groin injury.
Claiborne, 27, certainly has more upside than Carr. However, the Ravens value Carr’s durability after they’ve needed to start four different cornerbacks in each of the past three seasons.
Carr’s streak of 144 consecutive starts is the longest among NFL cornerbacks, and is sixth among active players. A fifth-round pick in 2008 out of Grand Valley State, Carr played his first four NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and his last five with the Cowboys.
At 6-foot, 210-pounds, Carr plays a physical style, although he’s not known as a playmaker. He has 15 career interceptions, but only one of them has come over the past three seasons. He does have two career defensive touchdowns.
In his career, Carr has 477 tackles, 109 passes defended, nine fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. For the NFC East-winning Cowboys last season, he made 61 tackles, had one interception and broke up nine passes.
Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 51st best cornerback in the NFL last season.
NOTE: The Kansas City Chiefs announced Thursday they have signed former Ravens safety Marqueston Huff. The Ravens withdrew their original-round restricted free agent tender from Huff on Monday.