Dallas Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones was once infamously quoted as saying, “You wouldn't want to see the size of the check that I would write if it would for sure get the Dallas Cowboys a Super Bowl.”
While Cowboys fans undoubtedly share his sentiments, Jones is ultimately a businessman. As such, success is as much about financial return on investment, as it is on-field success.
Based on that assumption, Jones may be comforted that two of his star defenders apparently provide some of the best ‘bang for the buck’ in the pro football universe; linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Recently, NFL.com provided their annual attempt at constructing “The Best NFL Team Money Can Buy.” Using outlined selection criteria, as well as adhering to the league’s $208.2 million salary cap in 2022, the team was assembled with players who arguably provide the most notable blend of prowess on the playing field and cost efficiency.
Fortunately for Dallas, both Parsons and Diggs embody those attributes quite nicely.
2022 Cap Number: $3.88 million*
(*All cap figures via OverTheCap.com)
“On a roster like this, Micah Parsons would be free to do whatever he wants on the football field, and the staff would be keen to let him do so. The Penn State product was the only player in the NFL with at least 200 coverage, pass rush, and run defense snaps in 2021 (Next Gen Stats). Parsons had the highest pressure percentage in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016) and did not allow a receiving touchdown in coverage. Even more impressive, he finished sixth in the league with 13.0 sacks despite rushing the passer on just 52.9 percent of dropbacks (260th in the NFL, min. 100 pass rush snaps).”
Parsons not only finished his rookie campaign with his aforementioned 13 sacks, he also logged 84 total tackles and three forced fumbles in 16 games played. The 23-year-old Penn State product was selected by the Cowboys in the first round (12th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. As a result, Dallas secured the services of one of the most dynamic defenders in the game, while keeping him under the control of a rookie deal for the foreseeable future. For his efforts in 2021, Parsons was named a first team All-Pro by the Associated Press, earned a Pro Bowl nod and was chosen as the unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year.
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Never one to rest on his laurels, Parsons has set his sights for the upcoming season even higher; eyeing one of the most revered single-season records in NFL history.
2022 Cap Number: $1.72 million
“Trevon Diggs brings his wide receiver skill set to the defensive side of the ball. Diggs finished on the opposite end of the spectrum from Terrell, allowing the most receiving yards (1,016) in 2021. He also had the most interceptions (11) by any player in the last four decades. Though a tall task, Diggs has a shot to become the first player in the Super Bowl era with consecutive seasons of double-digit interceptions. On a roster like this, Diggs' aggressiveness is far less of a worry.”
Albeit chosen for a reserve role, Diggs may be the very definition of ‘return-on-investment’ among his peers. In 2021, he led all cornerbacks with 11 interceptions, en route to a first-team All-Pro selection. The 23-year-old is considered one of the top players at his position heading into the 2022 season. While possessing top-level speed paired with having a keen instinct for the football, the Alabama product combines the integral qualities needed for becoming a successful defensive back. While some may argue his need for improving his coverage ability, especially when compared to that of his Cowboys teammate, Diggs remains more-than-competent in that regard. As a result, he is poised for a big year as Dallas’ top option on the perimeter at the cornerback position, while remaining under contract at an immensely affordable price.
Ultimately, the Cowboys fierce, but frugal pair of defenders are seeking greater team success for 2022. Still, the competitive nature they share pushes each of them to be the best individual players possible. In fact, Parsons has "playfully boasted'' about beating Trevon Diggs and leading the team in interceptions despite the fact that he has never recorded even one in college or the pros.
Though a bit of friendly competition can serve as motivation, Dallas has to be content to have both Parsons and Diggs on the same side, for 2022 and beyond.
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