In a somewhat surprise move, the Dallas Cowboys re-signed fifth-year cornerback, Jourdan Lewis, this week to a three-year deal. The contract guarantees Lewis $8 million and can net up to $16.5 million if all incentives are met.
The re-signing could spell doom for sixth-year slot cornerback, Anthony Brown. Brown, favored over Lewis through the past two defensive coaching staffs, has been the starting nickel corner throughout his tenure. The Dallas Cowboys were so happy with his play, they re-signed him just a year ago to a three-year deal of his own.
By re-signing Jourdan Lewis, Anthony brown’s future is certainly in doubt with the Dallas Cowboys.
Lewis, typically used only inside in nickel situations, seemed to be redundant piece to the Dallas Cowboys defense. That’s why many pegged him as a likely departure this month. But Lewis’ strong play down the stretch, combined with Anthony Brown’s injury history (he played less than 50% of the snaps in 2020 and only 26% of the snaps in 2019) may have tipped the scales in Lewis’ favor.
Anthony Brown’s future will be directly linked to what the Cowboys have planned for Lewis.
Statically both slot corners struggled last season. Pro Football Focus graded Brown as the 85th CB in the NFL last season and Lewis as the 107th. But the Dallas Cowboys clearly saw something they thought they could use from Lewis, and it may be his ability to play safety.
Lewis played 128 snaps as a box safety in 2020. He’s a strong tackler and a physical presence inside who can navigate coverage through traffic. What Lewis lacks in speed (4.54 40-time) he makes up for in ball skills. Lewis could also project as a potential free safety. New defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, has a history of converting CBs to free safeties and that could also play a part in this re-signing.
It’s clear, Anthony Brown’s future will be directly linked to what the Cowboys have planned for Lewis.
Brown is one of the fastest players on Dallas’ roster (4.35 40 time) and has enough position flex to play inside and outside CB. The same Cowboys coaches that didn’t like Lewis outside, felt fine rolling fellow sub-6-footer, Anthony Brown, out to the boundary. It’s that ability to play outside that could save Brown’s hide in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys don’t need to decide to cut Brown right now. They can wait until after the NFL Draft. The salary benefits are the same regardless. The smart move is to wait until after the draft. If things fall right and the Cowboys get their starting CB in the first two rounds, they probably don’t need Brown (unless they plan to transition Lewis to safety fulltime).
If the draft falls differently and they fail to snag a CB early, they have the speedster Brown as a back-up plan to start alongside Digg on the boundary. It’s not ideal but it’s certainly something.
Jourdan Lewis re-signing doesn’t mean certain doom for Anthony Brown. Brown’s future depends more on what Dan Quinn plans for Lewis and how the upcoming draft falls.