Trevon Diggs was a rare bright spot among the Dallas Cowboys' new players last season. He will be back in 2021 as a starting cornerback, but he's going to need some help for Dallas' secondary to restore solvency. Our Position Preview series look at the CB position and the potential for big changes this offseason.
Since 2017 the Cowboys have been waiting on Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, 2nd and 3rd-round picks that year, to develop into reliable long-term starters. But now we've reached the end of their rookie contracts with neither establishing themselves as fixtures.
If Chido and Jourdan were to depart as free agents, that would leave only Diggs and Anthony Brown as proven cornerbacks under contract. In the modern NFL where your third CB is essentially a starter, that's a shaky situation for any team hoping to be a contender.
2021 Cornerback Contract Statuses
- Anthony Brown
- Deante Burton
- Maurice Canady
- Trevon Diggs
- Kemon Hall
- Rashard Robinson
- Saivion Smith
- Free Agents
- Chidobe Awuzie (U)
- C.J. Goodwin (U)
- Jourdan Lewis (U)
U = Unrestricted, R = Restricted, E = Exclusive Rights
By giving Anthony Brown about $5 million per season in last year's new contract, Dallas appeared to be planning for this offseason and expecting to lose at least one of Awuzie or Lewis. You don't pay a cornerback that kind of money unless you project that he'll be one of the top three.
That could give us an idea of what the Cowboys intend to do with the 2021 offseason; trust Brown and Diggs as starters and add at least one more player to the mix.
Though neither panned out as great cornerbacks, Awuzie or Lewis could still return next year as a potential free safety option. That would also keep them in the mix at CB should Dallas not find an upgrade.
Another player to watch is Maurice Canady, who sat out last season under the COVID-10 policy. His one-year contract was deferred to 2021 and he has the size that new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn seems to like his his cornerbacks. Canady was expected to complete for a major role in 2020 and may get that opportunity now.
However, none of this precludes the Cowboys from making cornerback and major priority in free agency or the draft.
Dallas could very well use their 10th-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to land an elite CB prospect. One or both of Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley and Alabama's Patrick Surtain II may be there when the Cowboys are on the clock.
Both Farley and Surtain are big-bodied prototypes who would pair nicely with Trevon Diggs in the starting lineup. While Dallas has several potential uses for their 1st-round pick, this is one spot where few should find cause for complaint.
But the top three at cornerback isn't the only concern. Dallas may also need to look at depth as the likes of Deante Burton, Rashard Robinson, and Saivion Smith aren't exactly inspiring.
A potential underrated loss would be if veteran C.J. Goodwin were to leave this offseason. One of the best special teams players in the league, Goodwin has done more to affect games the last few years than most backups.
We could see last year's 4th-round pick, Reggie Robinson, move back to CB after Mike Nolan's regime converted him to safety. But no matter what secondary position he plays, Robinson may help replace Goodwin's special teams duties based on his athleticism and past work from college.
Clearly, cornerback is a big topic for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. They appear to have struck gold with Trevon Diggs but are now dealing with the lack of development from previous draft picks. This could lead to a lot of player movement this offseason.
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Other Cowboys 2021 Position Previews
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