Cowboys’ $20 Million Star Named Boom-Or-Bust Free Agent


Getty Stephon Gilmore is anything but a sure thing to make an immediate impact in 2024.

There’s a bit of a ‘buyer beware’ quality to NFL free agency, and this offseason is going to be no different.

Since the salary cap reached a record $255.4 million this offseason, NFL teams with unprecedented spending flexibility will have plenty of opportunities to fill pressing needs on their roster with high-priced veterans. Some free agent signings work out better than others, and the landscape of NFL history is littered with players who either outperform their new contracts or wind up as cautionary tales.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Stephon Gilmore enters free agency labeled one of’s ‘boom-or-bust’ players about to hit the open market.

“Once upon a time, Gilmore was the best cornerback in the NFL,” Matt Okada writes for “That was back in 2019, when he won Defensive Player of the Year and a second straight All-Pro honor. Since then, Gilmore has played for four teams in four years and has been traded twice.

“He’s still a strong starting corner and shows flashes of that shutdown savvy every now and then, but at 33 years old, it’s fair to acknowledge the fuel in Gilmore’s tank may be running low — at a position that demands a whole lot of fuel. Gilmore will likely need to sign another short-term deal, and it figures he’ll aim to do so with a legitimate contender.”

While Gilmore’s age could put a damper on his market, the five-time Pro Bowler is coming off a 2023 season in which he held opposing quarterbacks to a meager 83.3 passer rating in 600 pass-coverage snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

What is Stephon Gilmore’s Market Value?

While Gilmore might not be the premier cornerback in free agency, the position could be in high demand around the league, especially if Kansas City Chiefs star L’Jarius Sneed moves on and resets the market.

After posting a career-high 68 total tackles in 2023, while intercepting two passes, Spotrac projects Gilmore could command a one-year deal worth $11.1 million.

That contract would make Gilmore the 17th-highest-paid cornerback in the league, and represent a $1.1 million raise over the deal he played on last season in Dallas.

The Cowboys’ dire financial straits have been well documented, with the Cowboys currently projected to be $4 million over the cap ahead of free agency getting underway.

Given their limited spending flexibility, Dallas could opt to move forward with DaRon Bland and Trevon Diggs. Especially after Bland intercepted nine passes with five returned for a touchdown in 2023, and with Diggs set to return from a torn ACL.

Higher Salary Cap Won’t Solve All Cowboys’ Problems

While the Cowboys may be one of the bigger beneficiaries of the salary cap rising this offseason, it will be no picnic for Jerry Jones and Co. to get cap compliant this offseason.

There may even be landmines for 2025 and beyond.

According to former NFL Agent, and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry, if the Cowboys decide to add void/dummy years in 2027 or 2028 to Prescott’s contract, any cap relief for Dallas would be short-lived.

“Dallas would have almost $13.5 million in cap space by prorating all but $1.21 million of Prescott’s 2024 salary through 2026 with a contract restructure,” Corry explains in a recent column for CBS Sports. “The downside is the Cowboys would be facing $58.32 million in 2025 dead money, a salary cap charge for a player no longer on a team’s roster, by Prescott playing out his contract and testing the open market in 2025 free agency. The Cowboys would get a 2026 third-round compensatory pick at best from Prescott’s departure in this manner.”

The Cowboys have their work cut out for them in the coming weeks to get under the cap, and the biggest priority of all is lowering Prescott’s cap hit in 2024.

Read More