Cowboys Urged to Replace Starter With Former $90 Million Pro Bowl Star

Stephon Gilmore

Getty The Dallas Cowboys could move on from former Pro Bowl corner Stephon Gilmore.

Rumors continue to swirl as to whether the Dallas Cowboys will be able to re-sign five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Dallas may need to explore alternative options just in case the team does not meet Gilmore’s asking price.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox labeled former Miami Dolphins corner Xavien Howard as a potential replacement option for Gilmore. Earlier this offseason, the Dolphins released Howard who had a five-year, $90 million deal that was slated to run through the 2026 season. The four-time Pro Bowler is still searching for a new home following his release.

“Bringing back 2023 trade acquisition Stephon Gilmore could be an option,” Knox wrote in a May 6, 2024 story titled, “Free Agents Cowboys Should Pursue After 2024 NFL Draft.” “Gilmore was a very solid starter for Dallas in 2023, though that fact could put his price point out of the Cowboys’ range.

“According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, there is ‘nothing imminent’ on a potential Cowboys-Gilmore reunion. Instead, the Cowboys should kick the proverbial tires on four-time Pro Bowler Xavien Howard,” Knox added.

“A foot injury hampered his 2023 campaign, but the 30-year-old was widely considered one of the league’s premier pass defenders before that. And Howard might be able to take a budget-friendly deal if it means making a deep playoff run.”

Cowboys Rumors: Potential Target Xavien Howard Appears to be a Downgrade From Stephon Gilmore

The question is what the Cowboys would be getting with Howard who has earned two straight seasons of poor grades in the 50s from Pro Football Focus. Howard received a 55.1 (out of 100) for his play last season. This is significantly down from the 70.9 grade Howard earned two seasons ago in 2021.

By comparison, Gilmore still earned a respectable 74.4 grade from Pro Football Focus for 2023. Yet, the lack of a new deal shows Dallas is at least considering the possibility of moving on from the former Pro Bowler.

Ex-Dolphins Pro Bowler Xavien Howard Posted 20 Pass Deflections & Led the NFL With 10 Interceptions in 2020

Howard posted 45 tackles and 12 pass deflections in 13 starts during the 2023 season. The veteran has a combined two interceptions over the last two seasons. Howard’s best season came in 2020 when the corner posted 51 tackles, 20 pass deflections and led the NFL with 10 interceptions.

It could be worth the gamble for the Cowboys to sign Howard, but there appears to be a dropoff from the corner compared to what the team was receiving from Gilmore in 2023. The good news for Dallas is the team is expecting the return of Trevon Diggs who missed all but two games with a season-ending ACL injury in 2023. DaRon Bland also emerged as a breakout star during Diggs’ absence last season.

Panthers Rumors: Carolina Among the Teams Showing an Interest in Stephon Gilmore

The challenge for the Cowboys is there appears to be other suitors who want to sign Gilmore. The Carolina Panthers are one team that went public with their interest in Gilmore.

Dallas’ chances of re-signing Gilmore on a team-friendly deal are decreasing as more suitors emerge for the defender. For context, Gilmore had a $9.9 million cap hit for the Cowboys in 2023.