The secondary has arguably been the weakest link on the Dallas Cowboys defense for quite a while. It hasn’t been from a lack of bodies, they have that, however, the talent of said bodies hasn’t always performed to the level the organization would like, at least not on a consistent basis.
Now, heading into the 2020 season, the Cowboys have a few decisions to make at cornerback. Two are headed for free agency, one is coming off of a rough 2019 campaign, and another is possibly headed for a bigger role next season. Let’s dive into the cornerback room a little.
Anthony Brown has been a solid slot/nickel corner during his four years with the Cowboys. In his first three seasons (2016-2018) Brown played in 47 out of a possible 48 games logging 30 starts, and he made them count. He averaged around 52 tackles and nine passes defended per season. However, 2019 was a struggle not only on the field but injury-wise. In a Week 11 win vs the Detroit Lions, Brown suffered a torn triceps muscle and was lost for the season.
Brown’s injury may make it harder for him to find a new destination once he hits the open market as an unrestricted free agent in March. He’s a pretty good corner to have on your roster, especially considering reliable slot corners are hard to find. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cowboys see Brown as a valuable commodity in 2020.
Chidobe Awuzie, statistically, had his best year in 2019. He finished with 79 tackles, 14 passes defended, an interception and a fumble recovery. However, that’s not hard to comprehend because teams felt comfortable throwing at him, which made his numbers look a lot more impressive than they really were.
Now entering a contract year, Awuzie will have to show and prove that he’s still worthy of being the team’s number two corner or risk not only being benched like he was for Jourdan Lewis last season, but he could possibly be allowed to test free agency in 2021.
Jourdan Lewis was a stellar surprise in 2019. Never lacking talent, he simply needed the reps, which he got once the aforementioned Brown suffered an injury. He would be the fourth corner on the roster under Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard, who likes to put taller corners on the field.
He caught a break, though, once Brown was lost for the year, and he made it count. Lewis would finish with 51 tackles, six passes defended, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. Now, Lewis has set himself up to be a starter next season and put Awuzie in the rearview mirror, while also setting up a lucrative payday as he’s set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
Last but current not least is Byron Jones. After spending two years playing safety, he was put back in his natural position at cornerback in 2018, and the dividends paid off quickly. Jones would make the Pro Bowl and be named second-team All-Pro in 2018. Last season, he was solid once again and firmly established himself as one of the best shutdown corners in the NFL.
Jones is set to be an unrestricted free agent and will be the team’s third priority in free agency after Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. This is one guy the Cowboys definitely will make a push to keep even though there’s a good chance they will get outbid for him.
Plenty of questions to be answered regarding the Cowboys cornerback situation. With close to 100 million in cap space projected for 2020, the Cowboys will have the resources to keep whoever they want. As the offseason starts to get rolling, this will be an area on the Cowboys many will keep a close eye on.