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In a crowded Cowboys cornerback room, Anthony Brown will have to carve out a role

The veteran cornerback signed a three-year deal to return to Dallas this offseason.

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

When the 2019 season came to a close, it seemed as if there was a decent chance cornerback Anthony Brown had played his last snap with the Dallas Cowboys. The former sixth-round pick turned out to provide great value in his four years in Dallas, but an uneven 2019 campaign to go with a season-ending triceps injury left his future as a Cowboy a big question mark.

Dallas, however, appeared to see things much differently. The Cowboys wasted no time bringing Brown back at the start of free agency on a three-year, $15.5 million extension. Dallas clearly had enough faith in Brown to sign him to a three-year deal, but not enough to prevent them from upgrading the cornerback spot even more after his signing.

The Cowboys went on to add Maurice Canady, Daryl Worley, Trevon Diggs, and Reggie Robinson II. It’s clear Dallas felt that bringing back Brown was a priority, but with such a crowded cornerback room how big will his role be in 2020?

First, let’s look at what Brown’s role will likely be. Throughout the course of his four-year career, one thing he has consistently brought is versatility. He’s played left corner, right corner, and in the slot during his time in Dallas. In his last full season in 2018, Brown played 594 snaps in the slot and 264 outside.

When he’s been on the field, Brown has been up and down, but overall a fairly productive player. According to Pro Football Focus, in his four-year career Brown has 25 pass breakups. In 2018 PFF graded him as having his best overall season. During that year, Brown received a coverage score above 68 nine times. He also allowed the lowest total receiving yards of any full season to date, giving up just 466.

One area where Brown struggles is in his tackling ability. In nine games during the 2019 season, Brown missed seven tackles, compared to the 17 he did make. That is good for a missed tackle percentage of 29.2%, far too high. His tackling was not the only area Brown struggled in during his time on the field in 2019. According to PFF, Brown had his second worst graded season of his career coverage wise. He recorded a coverage score below 61 in seven of his nine games.

Now it’s tough to say if 2019 was just an aberration, and the Anthony Brown we see in 2020 will be more like the one we saw in 2018, but even if this is the case it still may be hard for him to see the field much. Brown will be battling with Jourdan Lewis for opportunities in the slot, and it’s a toss up between who wins that battle.

In a wild year like 2020 where even training camp is uncertain, he may have the edge starting outside to begin the season. Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II may need some time to settle in to the league, leaving Brown, Worley, and Canady battling for the starting cornerback spot opposite Chidobe Awuzie.

Even if he starts the year as the Dallas starter, it’s hard to see Brown beating out Diggs and Robinson for playing time down the stretch of the season. Diggs especially is such a talented player, he likely will make a push to be a starter quickly. Bringing Brown back was a good move for depth purposes, but with all the bodies at cornerback it’s hard to see him seeing the field too much in 2020.

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