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Why the Cowboys should take a flyer in free agency on this veteran cornerback

The Cowboys could use another veteran in their secondary.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

With limited resources, the Dallas Cowboys have done a nice job so far in free agency. The Cowboys were able to address OT, DE, DT, CB, and S, helping free them up to go in a variety of different directions in the upcoming draft. While none of their signings have been real flashy, the Cowboys have made some solid additions.

There are still plenty of players on the open market the Cowboys could bring in on a relatively inexpensive deal, and one they should definitely consider is veteran cornerback Casey Hayward. The 31-year-old corner was cut by the Chargers prior to the start of free agency.

Hayward had the worst year of his career in 2020, posting a 59.5 PFF coverage grade and surrendering five touchdowns, tied for the most in his nine years in the league. Hayward’s PFF coverage grade still was better than any of the Cowboys’ top four cornerbacks in 2020.

Despite a poor 2020 campaign, Hayward still has posted some quality production as recently as 2019. In that season he had an outstanding 83.0 PFF coverage grade, the fourth-highest of his career. The former second-round pick recorded two interceptions, eight pass defenses, and had just a 56.3 reception percentage when targeted.

Hayward is not the Pro Bowl caliber corner we saw from 2016-2018, but he still would be a solid addition to the defense. Adding him would provide some much-needed veteran leadership in an extremely young secondary, and would take some pressure off a potential first-round cornerback, like Patrick Surtain II. It potentially even could let the Cowboys select an offensive player at pick 10, like Kyle Pitts or Rashawn Slater, and wait until 44 to take a cornerback.

There is some familiarity between Hayward and the current Cowboys defensive staff that could draw him to Dallas. When the cornerback’s career took off in Green Bay, Joe Whitt Jr. was the Packers cornerback coach. Whitt is currently the secondary coach for Dallas and may be interested in bringing a familiar face into the cornerback room.

Casey Hayward is not going to come in and set the world on fire, but he’s the type of player the Cowboys should be exploring in this second wave of free agency. Bringing in Hayward would allow the Cowboys to be even more flexible in the draft, and would give them an experienced veteran for the back end of their defense.