The 2019 Cowboys’ defense didn’t meet the expectations built around them after showing great potential down the stretch of the 2018 season.
While they weren’t a stellar defense by any means, they still had some great players making the most of their opportunities.
Byron isn’t the most vocal guy on the team, but everyone notices him on the field because of his ability to compete at a high level. Heading into this off-season, Byron is one of the bigger fish across the league that could be heading towards free agency.
Byron has had a remarkable career in Dallas since being drafted in 2015. He played 3 seasons as a safety, then made the change to corner in year 4.
After an incredible season in 2018, Byron Jones’ name became known around the league as a shutdown cornerback.
This past season he took a step back, yet still made a tremendous impact for the Cowboys’ defense. Being a corner is tougher now with most rules favoring the wide receivers. However, even with that Byron allowed only a catch percentage of 53.6 (14th at his position). His length tagged up with his athleticism allows hanging with the best receivers this league has to offer.
Now Jones faces the end of the road of his rookie contract and is looking to collect a top of the line paycheck. Byron is more important to this defense due to Dallas’ lack of depth at the position. Chidobe Awuzie, & Jordan Lewis will both be entering their final years this season, and neither players are close to the caliber of player that Jones has become. Byron has the ability to eliminate, or at the very least contain, an opposing team’s best receiver.
Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins signed a 5-year deal worth $75.250 million with $36.260 guaranteed. If Dallas wants to keep their number 1 corner, this will have to be the starting point. From here it will be up to Jerry Jones to work his magic to find a number that both he and Byron feel comfortable with. The Jones’ have made it clear that they don’t want to be market setters, but this may have to be the case for Byron.
There is always the option to allow Byron to walk and replace him via free agency, or the draft. However, there aren’t many options in free agency that live up to the player that Byron is. A few options may consist of Denver’s very own Chris Harris Jr. (30 yrs old), or the Panthers’ corner James Bradberry (26 yrs. old). Both players could fill that void while doing it at a slightly cheaper price. Top corners don’t hit free agency too often, so whoever arrives next could likely be a step down from Jones.
The final option would be to turn to the NFL draft in April for a new face to arise in place of Jones. The cornerback class this season is filled with many talented players that show potential to become great players. Will McClay and the Cowboys scouts have been known for finding some talented players in the past. After all, Byron himself was drafted by this same staff not too long ago. The Cowboys could even go as far as to using the franchise tag on Byron, but that currently remains on hold in case a deal isn’t done with Dak Prescott soon.
Regardless, these next couple of weeks will play a key role in Dallas’ defense. If Jones leaves Dallas, there will be plenty of people gunning for him with big contracts.
Let’s also not forget that the rest of the NFC East could use a player like Byron.
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