Broncos Projected to Sign Top Cowboys Free Agent to Megadeal

Getty Dallas Cowboys corner Byron Jones

A needy NFL suitor has emerged as the rumored front-runner for Byron Jones’ services.

According to Cecil Lammey of 104.3 The Fan, the Dallas Cowboys‘ star cornerback is expected to be a “top target” of the Denver Broncos when free agency kicks off next month.

Lammey added that “rumblings since the Senior Bowl” have linked Jones to Denver, and the situation is “worth keeping an eye on” with Dallas prioritizing unsigned quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Piggybacking on Lammey’s report, Bleacher Report predicted Jones will ink a five-year contract with the Broncos.

Byron Jones is likely to be the hottest cornerback on this year’s free-agent market. The 27-year-old was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and is coming off his fifth season as a starter for the Dallas Cowboys.

While the Cowboys would likely love to keep their No. 1 corner, doing so will be difficult. They’re projected to have roughly $77 million in cap space, but they need to work out a deal with quarterback Dak Prescott and could make wideout Amari Cooper their next priority. Giving out a third big deal may not be realistic.

Jones should at least get a crack at the free-agent market, where he’ll likely go to the highest bidder. The early buzz suggests the Denver Broncos could be that bidder.

Denver, which is set to have nearly $62 million in cap space, can afford to make a serious run at Jones. Expect him to be the new centerpiece of head coach Vic Fangio’s defense if the Broncos get their way.

Dallas’ first-round draft pick in 2015 (No. 27 overall), Jones wrapped up his rookie contract, earning $6.266 million from his fifth-year option. A Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2018, he took a step back this season, totaling 46 tackles, six pass deflections, and one forced fumble. He failed to record an interception for the second year in a row but did earn positive coverage marks from Pro Football Focus.

While the Cowboys will bolster their defense under new head coach Mike McCarthy and coordinator Mike Nolan, it doesn’t appear as if Jones is in their future plans with only so much salary-cap space to allocate.

“He’s a starting-caliber NFL corner. A really good player. We have to figure out his financial value and if it fits for us,” team vice president of player personnel Will McClay said at last month’s Senior Bowl, via the Dallas Morning News.

McClay, too, admitted that it’ll be difficult retaining all three of Prescott, Cooper, and Jones — unrestricted free agents — to long-term, lucrative contracts.

“I think it’s going to be a tough deal,” he said. “It’s the NFL. …When you have good players, you have to figure out how to pay them or how to survive. So, that’s what we do in the front office is to try to figure how to work those contracts and get the best possible team with those guys. We’ve got to go through that whole process.”

Aside from the Broncos, the Philadelphia Eagles reportedly will “aggressively” pursue Jones this offseason. Denver CB Chris Harris Jr., also a free agent, is likely to be on Philadelphia’s radar, as well.

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Jones’ Potential Fit With the Broncos

Entering his age-28 campaign, Jones would immediately step in as an impact starter for the Broncos, whose cupboard is extremely bare — with or without Harris in tow. Behind the four-time Pro Bowler is a mixture of relative unknowns and subpar role players, including De’Vante Bausby, Isaac Yiadom, Duke Dawson, Davontae Harris, and Alijah Holder.

Denver is slated to bring back free-agent safety Justin Simmons via a long-term contract or the franchise tag. After doing so, they could turn their attention to Jones, and with plenty of cap room, may float him an offer the Cowboys probably wouldn’t bother matching.

The beauty part? Jones is capable of moonlighting at safety, forming a lethal tandem with Simmons and Kareem Jackson. Quite the upgrade on Will Parks.

Other UFA corners who might draw the Broncos’ interest: Logan Ryan, Ronald Darby, and Jimmy Smith. None, however, bring the mouthwatering talent and upside that Jones boasts.

READ NEXT: Cowboys CB Byron Jones Predicted to Ink Record-Setting Contract

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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