Report: Broncos Poised to Make Cowboys' CB Byron Jones 'Top Target' in Free Agency
The Denver Broncos are facing an exodus with free agency approaching. Multiple starters, especially on the defensive side of the ball, are poised to hit unrestricted free agency.
The Broncos will have to decide which homegrown vets to keep and which to cut loose, but it's entirely possible four-time Pro Bowl CB Chris Harris, Jr. could be among the departures. Even if Harris is re-signed, the Broncos will still have depth concerns at cornerback because of Bryce Callahan's troubled injury history and the lack of proven talent behind him.
Signing another outside corner could help mitigate those depth concerns and provide the Broncos with a bonafide pairing at the position. Thanks to a recent report by 104.3 The Fan's Cecil Lammey, a well-respected radio host in Denver with long-standing ties throughout the NFL scouting community, that outside corner could be none other than Byron Jones.
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Jones was drafted late in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys back in 2015. He has five NFL seasons under his belt and earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors in 2018.
He's long (6-foot-1) and plays an extremely physical brand of football. Vic Fangio's mandate about defensive backs tackling wouldn't be an issue for Jones. Scheme-wise, thanks to Jones' ability to diagnose the play and his explosive click-and-close, he could thrive in Fangio's defense.
Jones is also a versatile corner who can line up and play just about anywhere in the defensive backfield, although he's spent the last two seasons strictly outside the numbers at corner. The only real question about his NFL resume is the lack of ball production.
Jones has just two career interceptions and he's started 73 games. That's a concern. But it's it not a deal-breaker. It could simply be NFL QBs avoiding him in coverage, but it could also be that he's just not a very instinctual ballhawk.
After all, Champ Bailey was avoided for a decade by NFL QBs but he still had the knack for producing big interception numbers. The other fly in the ointment with regard to Jones is that he'll cost top dollar.
Spotrac currently projects Harris, Jr.'s value at $11.125 million per year. Harris is 30, turning 31 in June. If he was three years younger, which would make him the same age as Jones, he'd command $15M per year.
Jones is likely to cost $12-15M/year. The Broncos will have north of $60M in cap space, which leaves plenty of room to get a free agent like Jones locked down, if that's indeed the direction the team wants to go.
Dallas will be focused on getting Dak Prescott's contract figured out, which will be followed by WR Amari Cooper. Jones will be a distant third in that pecking order, which means he'll be ripe for the picking.
That is, if GM John Elway wants to pony up, pardon the pun.