Although Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper sit atop the Dallas Cowboys priorities at the moment, Byron Jones should not be overlooked. The 2015 first round selection for the Cowboys is about to play his contract year right after an impressive breakout season in 2018. After a few years of moving around the defensive backfield, Jones finally found his place at cornerback last season. His performance even earned him second-team All-Pro honors.
Byron Jones has felt like the most likely odd man out when discussing upcoming Cowboys extensions. DeMarcus Lawrence already got paid, negotiations have reportedly started moving faster with Prescott and Cooper and the front office has publicly said that they see Ezekiel Elliott as a priority in the team’s future. Even still, the front office must try to keep Jones around. He’s a CB1 in this league, even if we’ve only seen him one shine one season.
Recently, the cornerback market took an interesting turn after Miami Dolphins’ Xavien Howard became the highest paid CB in NFL history. The 2016 second round draft pick signed a five-year $76.5M extension, averaging $15.05M per year.
While these numbers sound like big time money, the truth is once you get to the contract details, things start to make more sense. It’s a big deal, but not one that will reset the market for cornerbacks in the NFL. After all, he did pass Josh Norman for the highest paid CB and will earn $50,000 more on average per year, but his deal arrived three years later than Norman’s.
Plus, Howard’s deal doesn’t include guaranteed money after the 2021 season, which will let the Dolphins assess his future on the team on a yearly basis.
With an average of $15.05M per year, this is a very smart deal for the Dolphins. If the Cowboys were to sign Byron Jones to a similar contract, I’d consider that a win. Despite only having one great season in his career, Jones has flashed his talent and potential since his rookie year in 2015. Getting a deal done with Jones that is as manageable as Howard’s seems to be would give the Cowboys freedom to move on if things don’t pan out the way they want to.
Cowboys Nation has been the home of a heated debate in keeping Elliott or Jones. Although Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best running backs in the NFL, we can’t overlook how important it is to have a top-tier cornerback like Jones in today’s NFL. The passing game is such an important piece of the game, you better have someone to defend opposing #1 receivers.
Byron Jones’ demands will likely be high, but the Cowboys would be wise to keep him around. A contract like Xavien Howard’s would make a ton of sense in the long run for both parties. It will be interesting to see just where does Byron Jones rank among the front office priorities.