The Dallas Cowboys have lost a few pieces in their secondary over the last few seasons. In 2020, Byron Jones headed to the Miami Dolphins in free agency. Back in March, Chidobe Awuzie went to the Cincinnati Bengals which made the cornerback position that much more important when the NFL Draft came about.
Before the Cowboys took Kelvin Joseph in the second round in April, they brought back Jourdan Lewis on a three-year, $16.5 million dollar deal at the beginning of free agency. Lewis has had his ups and downs finding a permanent role in the cornerback pecking order since he arrived in 2017. However, the Cowboys saw enough in 2020 to give Lewis a shot to secure his spot going forward.
“Just move me around and make plays, honestly,” Lewis said during OTAs. “They saw I had the ability to do so, and they wanted me to come back, and they felt like I had some unfinished business.”
When the free agency process began, Lewis didn’t know what his future in Dallas was going to be even after registering a career-high in tackles (59), starts (13), and snaps played (817) last season.
“I hit the market, and after that year I just wasn’t too sure,” Lewis said. “And we didn’t have our DC come back, so it was up in the air. They hit me up and said ‘We’d love to have you back, we’ve got some things for you to do,’ and I was like ‘I’m for it.'”
Lewis started his career with a very solid rookie campaign in which he amassed 54 tackles, an interception, and 10 passes defended in seven starts. Unfortunately, when the Cowboys hired former Kris Richard in 2018 as defensive coordinator, Lewis became somewhat of an afterthought. Richard preferred tall and lengthy corners, and at 5’10 and 195 pounds, Lewis only logged 187 defensive snaps all season and produced only 12 tackles.
The head-scratching thing about Lewis’s career is that every time he’s been allowed to make plays he’s done just that, and he mentioned recently the plan for him heading into the 2021 season in Dan Quinn’s defense, which looks to be as the team’s primary nickel corner.
“Yeah. I’m going to be in the box,” Lewis said. “I’m going to be able to make plays around the field and move around the field. It’s going to be cool. But at the same time, you’ve still got some unfinished business to do. It’s amazing to have the financial freedom to do what you want, but at the same time you still have to produce on the field.”
Lewis, much like any other player, will have more expected of him with a bigger contract. Not just on the field, but also in the locker room.
“Of course, yeah that always comes with it,” Lewis said. “More responsibility. They put value into you, and they think you can get the job done and they see you as one of their guys. Of course, that comes with opportunities and a longer leash. I feel like that’s what they’ve given me here.”
The former Michigan Wolverine is already taking more of a leadership role with a few of the Cowboys newcomers. Lewis had the opportunity in OTAs to play alongside the aforementioned Joseph and third-round pick Nahshon Wright. The five-year veteran spoke about what he saw from both rookie corners and how he’s trying to get them adapted to the professional level.
“They have the potential to play. They can go out there and hang with the best of them. They can run and cover,” Lewis said of the younger corners. “They have the measurables to go out there and check anybody. I saw those guys move around, and they move around really well. They can get it done. Just trying to mature those guys as fast as possible so we can have as much help as possible.”
Lewis has his financial security for the time being and knows what he’ll be asked to do in Quinn’s scheme. Now, it’s about Lewis validating his deal and continuing what he’s always done when he’s gotten the chance to which is be a playmaker in the Cowboys secondary.