Byron Jones has had a very peculiar career since entering the NFL in 2015. He started out playing everywhere in the backfield, then spent a lot of time playing safety until the Dallas Cowboys finally gave him a specific position in 2018 at cornerback. Since then, Jones has been one of the best defenders in coverage in the league.
Now, Byron Jones is headed toward free agency. Alongside Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, Jones is one of the biggest question marks in the Cowboys’ offseason.
The front office needs to make a decision on whether they’ll keep him or not. Despite a lack of interceptions, Jones is one of the least thrown to cornerbacks in the NFL as he’s targeted only every 10 snaps, tied for second in the NFL.
Jones’ future likely depends on how much he asks for. Does he deserve to reset the market on his way to become the highest paid cornerback in the NFL? Probably not. Specially considering the CB market has been still for a few years. If we’re talking about less than $15M per year, I’m not sure how the Cowboys let him walk. He’s very good.
But here’s the thing. It’s not only about how good Jones is, but the position the Cowboys secondary would be in if they don’t keep him. If he leaves, it’ll likely be because of a bidding war in free agency. There’s no other reason to let him go. Cornerback would instantly become this team’s number one need.
Think about it, cornerback is a team need even if Byron stays.
Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis will hit free agency in 2021. Awuzie hasn’t been consistent and at times has looked terrible. On the other hand, Lewis has shown promising signs. But after all, has he played enough for the Cowboys to feel confident enough about paying him after his rookie deal is up?
The Cowboys passing defense ranked 23rd in pass defense according to DVOA. After praising Kris Richard’s work in 2018, the team’s secondary was constantly beaten last season. Simply put, the Cowboys need an upgrade at CB.
Letting Byron Jones walk in free agency would put this unit in a terrible position, but even with him on the 2020 Dallas Cowboys, this is a position Dallas needs to address even as early as the second round of the NFL Draft.