Cowboys turn to soccer by signing former MLS player and USFL star Brandon Aubrey to compete for kicking job - CBS Sports, John Breech
From the other kind of futbol to the big league of the NFL, welcome to Dallas.
Back in May, Dallas special teams coach John Fassel said the team would consider “everyone on earth” for their kicking job, and after going through all the applications, it seems that the Cowboys have finally found their guy.
Tthe team has agreed to a contract with former USFL standout Brandon Aubrey, who has never kicked in an NFL game before. Instead of going with someone who has NFL experience — like Mason Crosby or Robbie Gould — the Cowboys have decided to go an unconventional route with their latest signing by adding a player who spent most of his life playing soccer before switching over to football in 2022.
Aubrey spent two seasons in the USFL, but before that, he was a soccer player. From 2013 thru 2016, Aubrey was at Notre Dame, where he played soccer for the Fighting Irish. After leaving college, Aubrey was drafted, but not in the NFL. In 2017, Toronto FC made Aubrey the 21st overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft.
Anyone else even remotely in the argument?
The last 10 league MVPs (and seven runners-up in that span) have all been quarterbacks. But let’s be honest, that’s a bit boring — even taking into account the well-established notion that we are in a “quarterback era.”
How about some love for the other 21 guys on the field at any given time? You know, the ones blocking for quarterbacks, catching their passes, putting them in more manageable downs and distances ... and also the players whose job it is to make quarterbacks’ lives a living hell.
There’s a tiny worry in my head that the Cowboys could mess around too much with Parsons in his apparent quest to be the league’s most well-rounded, diverse defender. But there’s also this: He’s capable of doing it.
Parsons was primarily a pass rusher last season, but he’s shown enough impact in coverage and run stopping — from multiple alignments — to prove he’s a unique player. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has done a masterful job not messing up with Parsons the past two seasons, so my level of confidence that he’ll continue getting the most out of him remains high.
A look at some vets who may not make the roster.
Jourdan Lewis, CB
Jourdan Lewis’ Lisfranc injury last season put an end to his season. After some recent acquisitions in the secondary and considering the wealth of young, talented defensive backs the Cowboys have right now, it may have also ended his career in Dallas.
Lewis has had his moments in Dallas. After hauling in three picks in 2021, Lewis was starting to become lauded as one of the Cowboys’ more opportunistic playmakers on defense. On the whole, however, Lewis’ coverage ability has not been at its peak in recent seasons. In his six games last season, Lewis was targeted 29 times by opposing quarterbacks and relinquished 24 receptions for an average of 9.2 yards per catch.
Dallas has a lot of options in the secondary. The emergence of young, cheap players like DaRon Bland and Israel Mukuamu last season, plus the acquisition of perennial Pro Bowler Stephon Gilmore doesn’t leave many snaps to go around at cornerback. The front office also stands to clear nearly $5 million in cap if they move on from Lewis.
Never too early to start planning ahead, right?
Going into 2023, the Dallas Cowboys appear to have one of the NFL’s top secondaries. They have a future Hall of Famer in Stephon Gilmore in one boundary corner spot after trading with the Indianapolis Colts. He’s lining up opposite Trevon Diggs, who just so happens to lead the NFL in interceptions since 2020 with 17. Last year’s fifth-round pick Daron Bland led the team with five picks and he’s competing with veteran Jourdan Lewis to play the slot role.
At safety, Dallas has up and coming star Donovan Wilson in tandem with veterans Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker. And while there’s a ton of talent, there’s also a ton of long-term uncertainty. Diggs, Gilmore, Lewis, Kearse and Hooker are all entering the final year of their contracts. So when ESPN’s Jordan Reid dished out his latest 2024 mock draft, it’s no surprise Dallas ended up with a member of the secondary.
27. Dallas Cowboys - Jason Marshall Jr., CB, Florida
“Stephon Gilmore — who is turning 33 and entering the final year of his contract — doesn’t seem to be in the Cowboys’ long-term plans, and Trevon Diggs is likely to become expensive in the near future. That is to say the Cowboys may be relying on drafting well in the secondary behind Diggs. At 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds, Marshall’s length causes issues for opponents in man coverage. However, he lacks ball production (only two career interceptions), and scouts want to see him make a bigger impact on passes in the air next season.”
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