With the 2023 NFL draft right around the corner, there are likely still surprises and major changes coming for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason.
Dallas has already sent a message to the rest of the NFC East with moves for cornerback Stephon Gilmore and wide receiver Brandin Cooks. On the other side of that coin, the release of running back Ezekiel Elliott has shown that the team isn’t afraid to trim any excess.
One name that could be on the chopping block is corner Jourdan Lewis. Dallas needed corner help and that’s why Gilmore was added, but Blogging the Boys analyst Jess Haynie suggests that a new rookie CB could signal the end of Lewis’ time with the Cowboys.
“Recently, we broke down how Dallas could still justify a high draft pick at CB even after adding Gilmore. A Day 1 or Day 2 prospect would almost certainly enter the fray as a top-four corner, pushing either [DaRon] Bland or Lewis even further down the line. At that point, Lewis’ big cap number might be more than the Cowboys are willing to carry,” Haynie wrote.
The prospect of a former starter like Lewis being cut is eye-catching to say the least, but it would require Dallas to land a talent in the NFL draft that they can properly rely on.
Lewis Entering Year 7 in Dallas
Earning a second contract with the NFL team that drafts you is the sure-fire sign that you’ve succeeded in the league, and Lewis can hang his hat on his first six years with the Cowboys.
Dallas drafted the corner out of Michigan in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft with the expectation he could compete for a starting corner job. He somewhat succeeded, starting seven games that season according to Pro Football Reference.
His first two seasons were a springboard for the coming years, with Lewis having his first multi-interception season in 2019 and then starting 26 games over the course of 2020 and 2021. The latter season was his best by far as the former Wolverine brought down three interceptions and registered 11 passes defended.
His second contract with the Cowboys started before that 2021 campaign, which meant that Dallas got tremendous value for his salary. However, injury sidelined his 2022 season and now that three-year, $13.5 million contract seems a lot less solid.
Cowboys Need Talent and Experience
The reason why Dallas traded for Gilmore is that he’s a top corner in the league that also boasts the experience and leadership skills needed on the team. Young players like corner Trevon Diggs are special, but Dallas has lacked veterans that have that next level of experience.
Lewis sits somewhere between that: he’s been in the locker room for six years, but he’s much more expendable than Diggs or Gilmore. That makes him an ideal person for the slot corner role, but it also makes his $5.8 million cap hit a notable one.
If Dallas can get great value for a corner in the first or second round, they can land a player like Maryland prospect Deonte Banks who has the talent to step into a starting role. But if the timing does not work, dumping Lewis for a player who needs more development seems like a fast track to recreating the issues Dallas had in the secondary in 2022.