FRISCO, Texas — When opposing quarterbacks line up to pass the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in 2023, they'll be faced with quite the challenge, one that rivals trying to figure out a Rubik's cube while simultaneously hoping to evade a lion, a jaguar and several other animals as designated by Micah Parsons.
That's because the addition of five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore, via trade with the Indianapolis Colts on Day 2 of NFL free agency, instantly upgrades the team's defensive back unit.
"It's going to be fun," said the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year. "When the season gets here, they've got to throw it somewhere. One of us is going to get tested. Just gotta be able to make the play when it comes our way.
"… They gotta throw it. One of us is gonna make the play."
In tandem with fellow First-Team All-Pro Trevon Diggs — in conjunction with veteran ballhawk Jourdan Lewis and breakout sensation DaRon Bland — it's a room full of cornerbacks who can wreak havoc, largely because they all believe any ball thrown their way belongs to them and not the intended receiver.
And to them, they ARE the intended receiver.
Gilmore is drooling just thinking about what the secondary in Dallas can be going forward; one that will still feature Donovan Wilson (re-signed on a three-year deal) along with Malik Hooker and Jayron Kearse patrolling the back end.
"I think we can be as good as we want to be," said Gilmore. "You just can't really talk about it. You've got to go out and do it. So I'm looking forward to putting the work in with these guys, getting to know them and us helping each other out to be the best secondary we can be."
A key attribute Gilmore brings to the table, outside of the obvious pedigree in between the lines, will be his ability to mentor the defensive backs, and to do it with a Super Bowl ring to validate his mentoring. But when he steps into the meeting room for the first time in Dallas, he'll be as open to learning as he will be to teaching — a perfect mix that could expedite the chemistry between Gilmore and the unit as a whole.
"[Diggs is] a great player," he said. "The things he does on the field, just watching him, he has great ball skills. He has a bright future. I'm just going to come in and teach him the things I know that I didn't know as a young player to try to bring him along. We're going to push each other.
"It's not just me teaching him. I'm going to lean on him too, and we'll push each other to get better everyday."
So, for as much as Diggs is an admirer of Gilmore, a fact that led to he and Parsons having a friendly battle of who'd get Gilmore's jersey following the Cowboys victory over the Colts in 2022, the inverse is also true.
Gilmore is a huge fan of Diggs as well, so, having already gotten Parson's jersey, he still has his eyes on the No. 7 in white and blue.
"I told them both that I wanted their jersey before the game," laughed Gilmore. "I got mad at one of my teammates for not getting Diggs that day. I still gotta get that now that I'm here."
It's officially lights, camera, action in the Cowboys secondary.
Pass the popcorn.