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Offseason | 2021

Roster Reset: How To Feel About CB Depth?


The free-agent signing period is not over by any means, but it certainly has gotten quieter both with the Cowboys and around the league. The focus is shifting now to the NFL Draft, which is scheduled for April 29-May 1.

While it's still possible to see more moves between now and the draft, the bulk of the player movement has already passed.

With that being said, let's take a quick look at each position on the roster and see where things stand heading into the draft later this month.

Today, we'll continue with a look at the much-discussed cornerback situation.

What Changed: With several of their cornerbacks destined for free agency in 2021, it was a certainty the Cowboys were going to see some shuffling this spring.

That change came early on in the league year, when the Cincinnati Bengals offered Chidobe Awuzie a three-year, $21.7 million contract. Awuzie was a four-year starter in Dallas, and he is turning just 26 this spring. It was a good bet those factors would pry him away from the team that drafted him, and that's exactly what happened.

What's Here: The front office had better luck hanging on to its other free agents.

Shortly after Awuzie departed for Cincinnati, the Cowboys agreed to terms with his fellow 2017 draft pick, Jourdan Lewis on a three-year extension worth roughly $13.5 million – a very similar signing to the deal Anthony Brown signed last offseason. Lewis has had his moments in Dallas, but he hasn't seen nearly as many opportunities up to this point. The amount of injuries in the secondary last season gave him a chance to make a career-high 13 starts, and he finished with 59 tackles.

The Cowboys also retained C.J. Goodwin, though it's widely acknowledged that his role is as a key special teamer more than a cornerback.

Bringing back Lewis means the Cowboys have retained three of their four top cornerbacks from 2020. Brown still has two years remaining on his extension, while Trevon Diggs is rising into his sophomore season in the NFL. With Lewis back in the mix, the Cowboys are bringing back a trio with 78 combined starts. It's also worth noting that Diggs and Brown combined for five of the team's nine interceptions last season.

Throw in some depth players like Steven Parker and Rashard Robinson – not to mention the potential return of Maurice Canady from his COVID-19 opt out – and there will be a lot of familiar faces in the cornerback room this fall.

What's Next: The obvious rebuttal to that last point is – "so what?"

It's admittedly hard to get people excited about a cornerback group that dealt with a lot of injuries last season, and gave up an alarming amount of big plays during Mike Nolan's first and only year as the defensive coordinator.

That's why, regardless of who they brought back, it's a good bet the Cowboys aren't done adding pieces.

This is a team that could use a top-tier corner, and that's exactly why the pre-draft process has linked them so consistently to the top cornerbacks in this draft class. Anyone who follows the Dallas Cowboys would have to be living under a rock not to have heard the names Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn. The SEC stars and NFL legacies are widely considered the best two corners in this class, and would have to be considered the favorites to the be the Cowboys' No. 10 overall draft pick – assuming one of them is still available. Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley also needs to be mentioned, although it's interesting to see how an offseason back surgery will affect his draft stock.

There are other routes they could go, as well. If they don't manage to find a cornerback at No. 10, there should be other options available in the second and third rounds. Ifeatu Melifonwu, Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, Asante Samuel Jr. and Elijah Molden all fit the bill of guys that could be added later while still bolstering the level of competition at the position.

However they want to play it, the situation seems crystal clear: the Cowboys covered themselves adequately during free agency, but this is a team in need of another starter-caliber cornerback. As things stand right now, it feels like a very good bet they'll try to find one later this month during the draft.

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