Since the middle of the 2019 season, Cornerback Deante Burton has been trying to find a regular role with the Dallas Cowboys. While he doesn't feel like a roster favorite currently, could Burton's history with the Atlanta Falcons and new Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn work in his favor?
After a college career at Kansas State playing wide receiver, Burton went undrafted in 2017 and signed as a free agent with the Falcons while Quinn was their head coach. Known for liking bigger defensive backs, Quinn immediately converted the 6'2, 205 Deante to a cornerback.
Spending his rookie year on Atlanta's practice squad, Burton returned jn 2018 and was released at final cuts. He was claimed off waivers by Green Bay (then coached by Mike McCarthy) but released after two inactive games. The Falcons re-signed him to their practice squad immediately.
That was Deante's life for over two seasons, bouncing between the bottom of rosters and practice squads with Atlanta, Green Bay, Houston, and Indianapolis. But when the Cowboys signed Burton off the Colts' practice squad in November it gave him his most stable job thus far in the NFL.
Burton finished 2019 as a reserve corner for Dallas and then returned in 2020 to mostly live on the practice squad. Deante was called up for two games last year under the modified rules due to the COVID-10 pandemic.
Returning for another opportunity in 2021, Burton still has the intriguing size and even some experience now throughout his various stops. But now age is a factor as Deante turns 27 next week; a major disadvantage compared to younger prospects the Cowboys are taking to camp.
But outside of a few rookies, Burton has an advantage now of having once been a handpicked project for Dan Quinn. Could that reunion give Deante an edge over some other prospects for the bottom of the Cowboys roster?
The current numbers at cornerback aren't friendly. You could already argue that five Cowboys CBs are locks to make the team: Trevon Diggs, Kelvin Joseph, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, and Nahshon Wright. Plus there's second-year prospects Reggie Robinson and special teams ace C.J. Goodwin to account for.
Burton finds himself in a tough spot with veterans like Maurice Canady and Rashard Robinson, all hoping to force their way onto the right side of the cut line.
Given his size, perhaps Deante could get a look at safety? There's way less competition there and guys like Jayron Kearse and Darian Thompson aren't that different from Burton; veterans just hoping they can outlast younger talent to fill out the depth chart.
Having only appeared in 10 games during his four seasons, Deante Burton certainly doesn't have much experience to mitigate his age. But if he's developed his game since those humble beginnings in Atlanta, could Burton once again catch the eye of Dan Quinn and extend his stay with the Cowboys?