Cowboys Sign Starting Defender to Lucrative 3-Year Contract: Report

Dallas Cowboys defense

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Jourdan Lewis will make more money in 2021 than he did in his first four NFL seasons combined.

That’s because the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday re-signed the unrestricted free-agent cornerback to a three-year contract worth up to $16.5 million, including $8 million in guarantees, according to media reports.

Lewis is the third previously-unsigned Cowboys player to receive a new deal since Monday’s opening of the legal tampering window. The team on Monday inked wide receiver Noah Brown to a one-year contract and Tuesday brought back cornerback C.J. Goodwin on a two-year, $3.5 million pact, with $2 million guaranteed.

Prioritizing in-house matters, Dallas also tendered exclusive-rights free agents Antwaun Woods and Cedrick Wilson and released veteran punter Chris Jones.

In out-of-house moves, the Cowboys have added offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe and long snapper Jake McQuaide, the corresponding roster transactions after losing OT Cameron Erving in free agency and opting to move on from age-40 deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur. The club also watched starting CB Chidobe Awuzie depart amid the NFL’s signing period; Awuzie landed a three-year, $21.75 million deal from the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Contract Details

According to beat reporter Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Lewis has performance-based escalators built into his extension. He can unlock up to $1 million each year of the agreement via undisclosed playing time and interception incentives.

Lewis will carry a $3 million base salary for 2022, guaranteed for injury and scheduled to become fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the next league year. Additional terms, such as his signing bonus and salary-cap charges, are unknown as of this writing.

The Cowboys entered Wednesday with $17.47 million in available cap space, per

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By The Numbers

A 2017 third-round pick out of Michigan, where he was a two-time first-team All-American, Lewis has quietly developed into one of the league’s better slot cornerbacks, although the proof isn’t always in the pudding.

On the 25-year-old’s resume are 176 tackles (136 solo), 19 pass deflections, and four interceptions across 61 games (26 starts). Lewis turned in a career-worst 2020 campaign in which he failed to record an INT and broke up just two passes, despite a career-high 15 starts.

Pro Football Focus graded Lewis as the NFL’s No. 107 CB. The Cowboys’ much-maligned secondary ranked 11th, surrendering 227.6 air yards per game. The defense was indisputably worse against the run (31st; 158.8 YPG), which contributed to a franchise-recorded 473 points allowed and, consequently, the firing of coordinator Mike Nolan.

2021 Outlook

The Cowboys are crossing their fingers that last season was merely an aberration — the result of Nolan’s failed scheme, which seemingly discouraged tackling and covering. The hope is new DC Dan Quinn, hired in January, vaults the moribund unit to respectability.

Lewis will return as the primary slot defender, likely flanked by boundary CBs Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown. Dallas also has Goodwin and Reggie Robinson on the tentative offseason depth chart. (Robinson, who played safety as a 2020 rookie, is expected to convert back to CB under Quinn.)

It’s entirely possible, if not probable, that the brain trust isn’t done fortifying the position. The Cowboys have been linked to five-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman and top rookie prospects Caleb Farley and Patrick Surtain II, presumed first-round picks in next month’s draft.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL