Dallas Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones has said many times that roster construction is a 24/7/365 proposition. Roster “construction” means more than roster “acquisition” which is a point that is often lost. Work has to be done that is not all about adding new players.
Heavy loads are lifted when it comes to ironing out details for current players on the Dallas Cowboys and new deals that they will receive. There is a storm of sorts brewing for the Cowboys as they are going to need to navigate a Dak Prescott extension, new deal for CeeDee Lamb and new deal for Micah Parsons all within the next 12-15 months (in all likelihood... obviously anything can change).
It is important to mention the other player who the Cowboys will need to focus on locking down and that is cornerback Trevon Diggs. While neither Lamb nor Parsons are pressing matters at the time (Parsons is not even eligible for a new deal currently), the Prescott thing is a matter of its own uniqueness, but what sets Diggs apart is that he is currently set to enter a contract year with the team.
That means there is much less sand left in his hourglass.
PFF projected Trevon Diggs’ new deal with the Cowboys to average just over $20M per year
Predicting contracts is always a tough thing to do but conventional wisdom and reason suggests that you can take a top-of-the-line contract and adjust a bit for a few details. Obviously Diggs’ interception total over his career is going to be a big sticking point, however you want to frame things he has all the reason in the world to demand to be paid the going rate (which is a lot of money).
Recently our own LP Cruz took a shot at predicting what a Trevon contract could look like:
With that information as a foundation, we can take an educated guess at Diggs’ new contract. Let’s predict that Diggs’ new yearly salary is 23M annually. Plus, let’s also factor in Diggs’ age and very good durability thus far in his career. It’s not unreasonable for Diggs to demand that 60% at least of his total contract is guaranteed. That leaves us with an expected contract of five-years, $115M with $69M guaranteed.
This evaluation was (obviously) based on an extrapolation of sorts on what the current cornerback market looks like. Whether or not you feel like the Cowboys are going to be able to bring Diggs’ number down is obviously up to you, but for what it is worth PFF seems to think that the possibility is larger than zero.
PFF put together a prediction of their own and it has Diggs coming in at just north of $20M annually:
A 2024 franchise tag at cornerback figures to be in the neighborhood of $20 million, meaning a second franchise tag would come in at around $24 million. Diggs certainly could push to become the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, given his ball production. But with massive extensions looming for CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons and Dak Prescott, we think Dallas would perhaps balk at that asking price. Playing behind one of the NFL’s best defensive lines certainly helps Diggs, with Dallas’ 35.8% pressure rate without blitzing since 2021 the top mark in the NFL.
Furthermore, Diggs should also benefit from the presence and tutelage of newly acquired veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore, even if just for 2023. With all of that said, because of the volatility in Diggs’ play, despite very high highs that could have him asking to reset a market that frankly hasn’t grown since Jalen Ramsey’s 2020 extension, we have him landing in the area of $20 million per year but not above Jaire Alexander at the very top. Diggs would be smart to push for a four-year deal in this case, instead of the five-year pact Ramsey and several of the other top cornerbacks agreed to, so he can ideally hit the market again before turning 30.
Contract Projection: Four years, $81 million ($20.25 million per year), $57.5 million total guaranteed
This would feel like a pretty sizable win for the Cowboys if we are being honest given that they would not be making Diggs the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL. Again, the likelihood of it seems small and also partly dependent on Diggs leaving some proverbial pie for his friends to take in their upcoming deals as well.
Just recently Bob Sturm wrote about “the four-year conveyor belt of talent” and reiterated the truth that generally speaking you have 8-10 players comprising somewhere around 60% of your overall salary cap space. Locking Diggs down to either one of these figures (or something in between) puts him into that all-important group.
It has been over a decade since the Cowboys paid high-price dollar to a cornerback but that was obviously a veteran free agent signing in Brandon Carr. These are some uncharted waters for the organization in recent memory, and while it makes sense to retain Diggs’ service, committing that much money to a player who does give up a few plays (the other end of the sword that we are all comfortable living with) always makes you pause a bit.
There is no perfect answer in situations like this. You either believe in the player or you don’t. But the time is coming where the Cowboys are going to show us how they feel one way or another.