Jourdan Lewis did what most of his fellow 2017 draft class couldn't by earning a second contract with the Cowboys. But with younger corners on the roster and a potential cap casualty situation looming, Lewis will need a strong season in 2022 to extend his tenure in Dallas.
After re-signing with the Cowboys last year Lewis turned in what some labeled a “career season.” He had a career-high three interceptions and proved the value of veteran experience over rookies Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright.
Lewis rejoins Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown as Dallas' top-three cornerbacks going into this season. But with Joseph and Wright, both Day 2 picks in 2021, entering their second years a strong competition in training camp could be brewing.
Perhaps the biggest threat to Jourdan's future is his contract. He can be released next year for $5 million in cap relief with only $1.2 million in dead money. It's one of the easier salary cap moves in front of the Cowboys next offseason.
Anthony Brown faced a similar threat this year, the last of his contract, but has survived thus far with no clear replacement ready. It might've been a different story if Kelvin Joseph had avoided injury in 2021 and legal issues earlier this year, but Brown is still Dallas' other starting CB until someone takes it from him.
For the Cowboys, with Joseph and Wright signed on cheap rookie deals through 2024, seeing their young prospects move into key roles would be ideal. But both still have to prove they can be trusted for Brown or Lewis to be ousted.
Like Brown this year, Lewis could play out his current contract if he's still projected to be one of the team's top-three corners in 2023. But that requires Jourdan to maintain his performance level from last year while also hoping none of Joseph, Wright, DaRon Bland, or any other corners push their way into larger roles.
Thankfully for Lewis, the role of slot cornerback is a niche that not every CB can fill. He's a strong tackler and effective blitzer out of the slot, plus has proven to have the quick reflexes needed playing closer to the action in the box.
Jourdan Lewis may very well remain one of the Cowboys' top cornerbacks in 2022. The pressure of younger prospects behind him and a critical point in his contract ahead will be high, but that could also fuel the veteran to building on last year's career-best performance.