FRISCO, Texas – The month of February is always the transition period from one season to the next. The 2019 season is in the rearview mirror, especially with a brand-new coaching staff in place.
The next step for the team is player personnel, which mostly takes place in March with the start of free agency. The first day of the new league year is March 18, although the Cowboys will have several other decisions to make before then, thanks to 25 unrestricted free agents.
Before we get too far down the road, let's take an overview at each position, finding out what they've got, what they need and some big decisions to make.
Today, we'll break down the cornerback position.
Coach In Charge: Al Harris
The Cowboys have two defensive backs coach in both Harris and Maurice Linguist in the secondary but with Harris' experience as an NFL corner, it's likely that his focus will be to coach the corners. Harris played 14 seasons in the NFL, including four years under McCarthy in Green Bay. Harris said he thinks
"You just evaluate the tape. You just go through the whole process. You don't really go into it saying 'I like this guy or that guy." You don't do it like that. You look at the whole big picture of last year and that'll give you a better assessment on the players that you have. I've watched practice and game tapes. I try to get an understanding of the guys, movement-wise and body types."
Harris was asked what kind of style he's looking for in his cornerbacks.
"I'm looking for football players," he said. "It doesn't matter. If you're a football player, you've got my vote."
Biggest Question: What Happens With Byron?
When Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said Dak Prescott is the first priority to re-sign and Amari Cooper is the second, he was then asked to pick a third priority. But back in late January, Jones said he hasn't gotten that far just yet. Here we are in mid-February and it still doesn't appear as if Byron Jones is a strong priority to re-sign, at least before the start of free agency. Jones will probably get the chance to test the market in free agency, and considering he was a Pro Bowler last year and a second-team All-Pro, it's likely teams will have the money to offer a cover corner such as Jones, despite the fact he hasn't recorded an interception in two seasons. The Cowboys haven't closed the door on bringing him back, but it has to be for the right price.
What They Have: Starters 2 & 3
It's not like the Cowboys will be gutted of cornerback experience even if Jones leaves in free agency. However, Chido Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis might not be ready to take over the No. 1 cornerback role for any team. Lewis is a playmaker, getting three turnovers last year. Awuzie started most of the season but lost his job late in the year to Lewis. Awuzie had five penalties, the most of any defensive back on the team, last year for 71 yards penalized. The Cowboys might consider re-signing Anthony Brown, who is also an unrestricted free agency.
Immediate Need: No. 1 Cornerback
The Cowboys definitely need to get a top-quality cornerback. Whether it's re-signing Byron Jones or drafting one in the first round, it's unlikely the Cowboys will go into the season with Awuzie and Lewis as the top two. Obviously, free agency comes first in March, so the Cowboys will probably cover their needs with a veteran or two, which include Brown. But assuming there isn't a big splash at the cornerback spot in free agency, the Cowboys might actually go into the draft with a glaring need at the position, something they usually try to avoid.