If there is one position the Cowboys should be most worried about heading into the offseason, it is cornerback. Obviously there is the big deal at quarterback to take care of, but even in a worst-case scenario, the Cowboys can have Dak Prescott play 2021 on a franchise tag. At cornerback, they have issues.
Right now, they only have two starting-caliber corners available. Trevon Diggs is definitely going to man one of the outside corner positions. He would be considered the one “lock” at the position. Anthony Brown is the other guy under contract that you could put out there and hope for positive returns. Brown has shown the versatility to play anywhere, but seems to do best in the slot.
After that, of the guys under contract or that are easily retainable, it’s special teamers or desperation plays like Rashard Robinson and Savion Smith. Even special teams ace C.J. Goodwin is a free agent.
There is one wild card in this whole mix. Last year in free agency the Cowboys signed cornerback Maurice Canady to a one-year deal, but he opted-out because of COVID. His one-year deal actually rolls over to this season. Canady was supposed to be a special teams guy who could provide depth.
And depth is something the Cowboys need at corner, heck, they need a starter. Which brings us to their two most prominent free agents at corner, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Both guys have been starters at various times, with Awuzie pretty much starting whenever he was not injured.
In a recent article at ESPN, Awuzie was chosen as the Cowboys player who would most benefit from a change of scenery.
Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie
Teams don’t like to give up on second-round picks, but sometimes they just run their course. Awuzie had four interceptions in his four seasons, starting 42 games. The free agent could get a larger deal from another team than what the Cowboys might pay and he might have more success somewhere else. — Todd Archer
Our analysis of free agents just after the season ended came to the same conclusion - another team will overpay for Awuzie because that’s how the free agent market works, especially with positions like corner. Awuzie has been stuck in a sort of no man’s land where he isn’t awful, but he also doesn’t stand out. He shows an ability to stay in coverage, but an inability to make plays on the ball.
Still, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and some team will likely give him a contract that the Cowboys won’t match.
As for Jourdan Lewis, the Cowboys just may be ready to move on. They’ve never been sold on him, putting him in and pulling him out of the lineup on different occasions, and just never finding a consistent role for him. With a new defensive coordinator and a new secondary coach, will there be any interest in retaining Lewis by the team?
It’s easy to concoct a scenario where the Cowboys are contemplating having only two real starting-level corners on their squad until they add some in free agency and/or the draft. This would easily make cornerback the biggest position of need this offseason. You really need three starters, and you would like a fourth who can start as part of your depth because injuries always occur.
This has led to many mock drafts picking either Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain at #10 for the Cowboys. A move or two in free agency could change that. The Cowboys could pick up a new corner and feel that they could enter the season with Diggs, Brown and that unnamed free agent to come.
If you were Cowboys GM, how would you handle the cornerback situation?