Free-agent CB Claiborne suspended four games

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Free-agent cornerback Morris Claiborne has been suspended for the first four weeks of the 2019 NFL season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Claiborne has so far gone unsigned this offseason, and the suspension may be a contributing factor for why he is still on the market.

Claiborne, 29, enjoyed another solid season in 2018 for the New York Jets, finishing with a career-high two interceptions (one for a touchdown). He was credited with 10 pass breakups, tied for 13th in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The knock on Claiborne when he arrived in 2017 from the Dallas Cowboys was that he couldn't stay healthy. In fact, he missed 33 games in five seasons in Dallas, but injuries weren't a problem in 2017 and 2018, as he missed only two games.

Claiborne made $7 million on a one-year contract last season. Essentially, he was the No. 2 cornerback, behind pricey free-agent addition Trumaine Johnsonbut often was matched against the opponents' top receiver because the Jets played "sides" with their corners.

Penalties have been an issue for Claiborne, who compiled a total of 17 (including those declined) in 2017 and 2018. That ranked fifth among defensive backs, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Claiborne's biggest penalty last season was a third-down holding call against DeAndre Hopkins in the fourth quarter of a 29-22 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 15. The penalty prolonged what turned out to be the game-winning drive for Houston. Afterward, Claiborne ripped the call.

He entered the league with huge expectations. Claiborne was the sixth overall pick in 2012, but he never lived up to the hype in Dallas. In seven seasons, he has seven interceptions, four fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and two touchdown returns.

ESPN's Rich Cimini contributed to this report.