It has been much discussed that the Dallas Cowboys could soon have a cornerback problem this offseason. Byron Jones is a free agent and as the days go on, it seems very possible that he is playing elsewhere next season. If Jones is to depart, the Cowboys would be left with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis as their starting corners currently on the roster.
Despite having a down year in some respects in 2019, Awuzie still has the potential to develop into a solid starting cornerback; the signs are there. Awuzie is near the football as much as any corner in the league, it’s about developing the skills to make plays on the ball that he currently lacks. His 14 passes defensed, leading the Cowboys’ defense in 2019, show this.
Outstanding coverage by Chidobe Awuzie on Marvin Jones here. Even as the QB scrambles and breaks the pocket, Awuzie is in perfect position cut off Jones every time he tries to adjust his route. pic.twitter.com/X9xD7dia09— John Owning (@JohnOwning) November 19, 2019
In limited playing time last season Lewis showed once again why many believed he should have gotten more snaps on the Dallas defense. Lewis started in five games and recorded two interceptions to go with six passes defensed. The former Michigan Wolverine is the only defender on the 2019 Dallas defense who really was able to make plays on the ball.
Is there anything Jourdan Lewis can't do?— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) December 16, 2019
Great pass break up on third-down. Big sack on a corner blitz. And the play nobody is talking about because it was negated by an offsides penalty - Cooper Kupp strip to force a would-be turnover. Helluva game by 27. pic.twitter.com/NwmyOUR9UM
Even if they get a bounce-back year from Awuzie and the same production from Lewis, that will not be nearly enough to replicate what they would be missing from the absence of Byron Jones. Dallas needs a cornerback who is affordable, has the versatility to play inside or out, and has experience as an NFL starter. That sounds like Anthony Brown.
After playing in just nine games before suffering a season-ending triceps injury, Brown was really a forgotten man for the latter part of last season. Despite playing in just nine games, Brown did record five passes defensed and 17 tackles.
Going back to last season. #Cowboys CB Anthony Brown was underrated. Uses his eyes well, keeps clear of the rub, extends for the interception. #DallasCowboys #NFL #CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/sGvcPmclku— Joel Bishop (@JoelBishopFB) July 18, 2019
For Brown, a return to Dallas makes sense. Coming off a year marked by inconsistent play and concluding with a season-ending injury, his market likely will not be all that big. Teams are not likely to throw big money, multi-year deals his way. If this is the case, why not return to the place he knows and look for a prove-it deal where he can get a bigger, multi-year deal next offseason?
From the Cowboys side of things, Brown is not a guy who is going to draw flashy headlines if he is re-signed. He is not going to make the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender, and to be quite honest, in all likelihood, no one outside of the Cowboys media and fans will probably even know they brought him back. But, despite all this, he may be one of the keys to Dallas having a successful offseason.
You never want to go into a draft having a need you must address. If the Cowboys lost Jones and Brown, unless they ponied up the money to sign a really talented corner in free agency, drafting a cornerback high in the draft would be a must. If they re-sign Brown, which they probably could do on a team-friendly deal, they give themselves a guy who has starting experience, versatility, and is on a cheap deal.
They could pair Brown with a guy coming off an injury on a friendly deal in free agency, say Mackenzie Alexander, freeing themselves up to not have to take a corner early in this year’s draft. This doesn't mean they wouldn’t take a corner at pick 17 or 51, it just eliminates the scenario of being in a real bad spot if the don’t.
Re-signing Anthony Brown is not going to move the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl needle that much, but for a team who has a boat load of needs this offseason, bringing Brown back could be a good start in creating some versatility in the team’s moves this spring.