Cowboys 1st & 10: First Problem Is A Secondary Problem
If you’re looking ahead to 2021, no player is going to get more attention in free agency than quarterback Dak Prescott.
But no position group should get more attention than the Dallas Cowboys secondary.
1) The Secondary Problem
Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is now out for multiple weeks due to a hamstring injury. He’s a free agent after this season. So is Jourdan Lewis, who has had a few moments in his three-plus seasons in Dallas, but he hasn’t been the type of consistent corner the Cowboys were hoping for. Also on the free agency list are Daryl Worley, Brandon Carr, C.J. Goodwin and Xavier Woods.
No position group could see more turnover in 2021 than this group. And, you could argue that this position group NEEDS to be turned over.
Of that group of half-dozen impending free agents, ask yourself if there’s a player there that you can’t live without. Think about it. To me, there isn’t. I mean, if you’re telling me I can get Awuzie, Lewis or Woods on an affordable contract with, perhaps, a small signing bonus, then I would be all right with that.
But this is a Cowboys front office that balked at giving Byron Jones big money, a player who played both safety and corner and gave the Cowboys steady play, but certainly wasn’t quite the impact player the Cowboys were hoping for as a first-round pick.
The Cowboys aren’t going to pay any of them big money. I’m not sure other teams will, either. But the Cowboys invested in players that could assume that group’s roles on a full-time basis next year, and they both made the roster as rookies — Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II.
But will that be enough? And do you have concerns after Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan shredded the Cowboys for four touchdown passes last Sunday?
With all of the discussion about the safety position — and believe me the Cowboys need an upgrade there — an upgrade at cornerback could be just as impactful.
But where is that impact going to come from? Free agency?
Well … there’s a bit of a problem there. The highest-paid free-agent corners for 2021 are on the wrong side of 30 — Patrick Peterson (31), Richard Sherman (33), D.J. Hayden (31), Josh Norman (34) and Jason McCourty (34). They’re all playing out contracts that, to some, might be of higher value than their ability at this point in their careers. In fact, there are only two corners on the right side of 30 among the Top 10 wage earners at their position — Mackensie Alexander (28) and Kevin Johnson (29). So they’re playing this season for their ‘last big deal’ next offseason.
So if you’re looking for a splashy corner, like a household name, it might cost you too much money for the payoff on the field.
This could be a reason why safety might get more attention in free agency. Of the Top 10 wage earners set to hit the market next year, six of them are under 30.
Leading the way is Denver’s Justin Simmons, followed by the Vikings’ Anthony Harris, the only two safeties set to hit the market that are making more than $10 million per year on average. In other words, there are potential discounts to be found on players that still have room to grow.
So if the Cowboys go shopping in 2021, the spree may end up looking a lot of like the spree in 2020 — inexpensive corners and safeties that can fit into their scheme, but that you’re also hoping can play above their pay grade.
It also means that you’re hoping the investments that the Cowboys have made the past couple of seasons in the draft — specifically Diggs and Robinson — pay off.
Because if they don’t, it could end up being either a lean back line or a back line with a lot of question marks going into 2021. And while you may think it’s too early to think about that, well, like I said — did you see Matt Ryan last week? And ... are you a bit nervous about Russell Wilson today?
2) The Top 10 Cowboys Comebacks
If you saw the Cowboys-Falcons game last Sunday (or even if you heard about it), you know that the Cowboys’ improbable comeback was, well, one-of-a-kind in NFL history. But where does it rank in Cowboys history?
Our Richie Whitt, who has been around the team as a writer for as long as our Mike Fisher, took a critical eye at determining the 10 ‘Craziest Cowboys Victories’ of all-time. Last Sunday’s win over Atlanta is on the list, but it’s not No. 1.
3) The Top 60 All-Time Dallas Cowboys Countdown is Complete
We published our Top 60 Dallas Cowboys of all-time as part of our celebration of the Cowboys’ 60 seasons in Dallas. We presented the Top 60 in groups of five. We hope you enjoyed the series and if you have an opinion, take them to our Cowboy Maven community or hit me up on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.
If you missed any of the stories in our Top 60, just click on them below.
4) Cowboys Anniversary Countdown: Top 60 (Plus) Moments
Despite the existence of an entire generation of DFW 20-somethings that have yet to witness it with their own eyes, the Dallas Cowboys were once a successful, superior organization.
They’re still proud. Still relevant. Just, let’s be honest, no longer as good as they used to be.
5) Chido to IR
Oh, I almost forgot: That hamstring injury for Chido? It's long-term enough that he's been moved to short-term IR. Dallas has shuffled the deck with corner Saivion Smith moving to the active roster for Sunday, along with another corner, Deante Burton, and tackle Eric Smith.
The Eric Smith move? It's about Tyron. Fish explains above.
6) Breaking Down CeeDee Lamb’s biggest catch as a Cowboy (so far)
Periodically I’ll check in on the progress of the Cowboys’ rookies this season and break down some of their key plays from a recent game.
This week I’m taking a critical eye at first-round pick CeeDee Lamb’s first catch of the second half, which set up Dak Prescott’s touchdown run to cut Atlanta’s lead to 12 points. It’s a study in how the right play call, the right audible and the wrong defensive scheme can combine to put a rookie like Lamb in great position to make a big play.
7) Things that will help you this Sunday vs. Seahawks
If you’re still getting ready for Sunday game with the Seattle Seahawks, here is some great content to get you prepped:
8) Sunday’s game from a fantasy perspective
Need some last-second fantasy advice for the Cowboys-Seahawks game, along with the rest of the NFL? We’ve got you covered right here. Check out the great advice from the CowboyMaven and SI staffs before you set your lineups on Sunday.
9) Whitt's End: Cowboys Coach McCarthy Already Has Garrett Beat
Just two games into the Dallas Cowboys season and it’s crystal clear: You can’t be a fan of both Jason Garrett and Mike McCarthy any more than you can like Harry Styles and Johan Strauss. While the former head coach was so conservative he once punted from the opponent’s 41-yard line on fourth-and-1 in overtime, the new boss is already 1 of 5 on fourth downs, has called two fake punts on his side of the 50 in the same game and sacked conventional wisdom by attempting a two-point conversion facing a nine-point deficit.
Garrett is the safe Blackjack player that stands on 16; McCarthy the gambler who doubles down on 6.
10) Tweet Of The Week
Wanna talk Cowboys? Hit up Postins on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.