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Diggs, Wilson, & Brown Provide Solid Foundation for DB Overhaul 2021

Three of the Dallas Cowboys’ most active defensive backs from the last four seasons are set to become unrestricted free agent in 2021. But even Dallas chooses not to re-sign any of them, they still have a solid core under contract in Cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown, plus Safety Donovan Wilson.

The 2017 draft class’ rookie contracts are all expiring. That means Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods are all about to enter free agency unless the Cowboys sign them to new deals before mid-March.

This potentially outgoing trio has accounted for 126 starts over the last four seasons. Awuzie and Woods have been full-time starters the last three years and Lewis started in 13 games in 2020. They may not have been stars but they certainly carried a heavy workload among the Cowboys defensive backs.

However, none of these three has ever emerged as a consistent contributor that the Cowboys should be desperate to bring back. Even Awuzie, a 2nd-round pick in 2017, has generally given up more big plays than he’s caused or prevented.

Trevon Diggs and Donovan Wilson were the playmakers in 2020 for the Cowboys secondary. And while he’s not flashy, Anthony Brown is a versatile veteran who provides strong depth.

In other words, Dallas won’t be destitute in the secondary if they don’t retain any of their 2017 draft picks.

If anything, the Cowboys should be using this 2021 offseason to upgrade from these likely departures. They appear to have found a long-term answer for one CB position in Diggs but he needs a true partner and neither Awuzie, Lewis, or even Brown have shown that level of play.

Similarly, Wilson has emerged as a playmaker at safety while Woods took a big backwards step in 2020. Maybe new Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn will see ways to undo Mike Nolan’s damage and get Woods back on track, but Dallas may also want to find a stronger coverage safety to mitigate some of Wilson’s current weaknesses.

One player also under contract is 2020 4th-round pick Reggie Robinson, who was essentially redshirted as a rookie as Dallas converted him from cornerback to safety. Who knows what Robinson might contribute, and from what position, as he hopefully progresses in his second year?

Clearly, this isn’t to say that the Cowboys won’t have work to do with their secondary this offseason. But losing all of Awuzie, Lewis, and Woods this offseason might have sounded like a disaster if you’d proposed it a couple years ago.

Thankfully, the emergences of Trevon Diggs and Donovan Wilson in 2020 and the veteran stability of Anthony Brown would make it a less damaging blow to the Cowboys defense. I do think Dallas will bring back at least one of the free agents, and maybe even more as their free agent market prices shouldn’t be too high.

But at the very least, we won’t have to be too concerned if none of them return.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. They won’t necessarily be missed but i’m kind of hoping they could keep Awuzie because for him it was injuries that screwed up his year , but if not then yeah at least we have Diggs an D Wilson , not sure on A Brown so i think they should draft Surtain/Farley with 1st pick to really send this secondary into a REAL overhaul

  2. 3 guys out of 8-10 (including backups). Numbers don’t add up though I like 2 of those 3. With 10 draft picks, maybe more as one of the QBs slides to #10 (Trey Lance most likely) and someone over pays to move up. Want to see Da Boys land 2-3 DBs in FA and 3-4 in the draft.

    Of course it would be REALLY nice to see Dallas take a bad azzed 1 tech they need desperately to stop the run as well.

  3. And all three were touted as great draft steals when they were drafted now a few years later not even worth signing doesn’t sound like they were steals to me all these people that write articles after the draft don’t have a clue what they’re talking about

  4. Awuzie best position is safety!! To bad the dumb coaching in Dallas didn’t realize that. I watched him in college and saw how much confident he plays with when he’s in the middle of the field looking at the qb playing down hill.. he’s a force and a playmaker when allowed to do so!!

  5. Concur, the three 2017 draft pick FA should only be resigned as depth. Diggs and Wilson are starters. But there is much more to discuss as an overhaul. Many DBs had playing time with poor results. Thompson, in particular underperformed expectations. Others, however, seemed thrown to the lions underprepared such as Savion Smith, Steven Parker, and Chris Westry. How are those young guys really progressing? Was teaching and technique the failure? Was the Nolan scheme the failure? Are Diggs and Wilson just that superior to the rest? Please discuss in more depth.

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