The Dallas Cowboys are enduring criticism for allowing a homegrown talent to walk this past offseason.
Drilling down, Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski termed Dallas’ failure to re-sign cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who joined the Cincinnati Bengals in free agency, as the team’s “most boneheaded decision” of the 2021 NFL campaign.
“Obviously, the Cowboys have a budding star in Trevon Diggs at one outside corner. Anthony Brown has been solid on the other side,” Sobleski wrote in a piece published Thursday, November 18. “Still, the idea of letting go of a quality starter at a premium position where a team can’t have enough good players might prove problematic down the road.”
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Examining Chido in Cincy
A 2017 second-round draft pick, Awuzie totaled 213 tackles (148 solo), 37 pass deflections, and four interceptions across 49 career appearances (42 starts) in Dallas. The 26-year-old played in just eight games last season due to injuries and a stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list — factors that catalyzed his $21.75 million free-agent contract with Cincinnati.
“It seemed likely an external team would offer a stronger offer for CB Chidobe Awuzie than Cowboys, who considered last offseason whether safety might be his best position,” Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweeted at the time of Awuzie’s signing.
Awuzie has made eight starts for the Bengals, notching 33 tackles (29 solo), eight PDs, and one INT across 487 defensive snaps. He currently ranks as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 11 CB among 119 qualifiers, drawing solid marks (77.0) for his pass coverage.
“Financially, Dallas could have swung Awuzie’s retention by structuring his current deal a little differently, as the Cowboys have some financial wiggle room ($4.6 million). Three reliable outside corners is certainly a luxury most teams don’t have,” wrote Sobleski.
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Diggs Discusses Latest INT
The Cowboys let Awuzie bolt elsewhere, in part, due to the presence of 2020 second-round cornerback Trevon Diggs, who’s blossoming into an NFL superstar amid his sophomore season. Despite being ranked as PFF’s No. 104 CB, Diggs leads the league with eight interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
The latest pick came courtesy of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who tossed the ball straight to the former Alabama standout during last Sunday’s 43-3 blowout at AT&T Stadium. It was a rebound effort from Diggs after allowing TD receptions in the previous two games, and he pinpointed why.
“Just getting back to the basics. It’s the little details that I was missing out on,” Diggs told reporters after the Week 10 victory, per the official team website. “You’ve got to stay on your details to stay sharp. So, I just did that.”
Diggs’ ball-hawking prowess will be called upon this coming Sunday when the Cowboys travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes already has committed 10 picks this season, four more than his 2020 total, and knows he’s tempting fate by throwing toward Diggs’ side of the field.
“He’s going to wait for his opportunity and usually when he gets his hands on it, he ends up making the catch,” Mahomes said Wednesday, via Cowboys beat reporter Brianna Dix. “[He’s] someone you have to pay attention to on every single snap and try to find ways that you can have success in either other places or on him in certain areas.”