Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones is mentioned among the best in the league at the position, but do we still need to see more before he cashes in big?
The Dallas Cowboys have already spent big this offseason, as they signed defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence to a five year, $105 million deal that guarantees him at least $65 million. They are on the cusps of doing so again, as talks with Dak Prescott have reportedly gone decent, and decent enough that he should be in line for a deal that will see him make at least $30 million per year.
These talks are just the negotiations to lock up their quarterback of the future and ones that will precede them having to then go into a discussion once again with the hopes of locking wide receiver Amari Cooper up long term, as he will be playing on the last year of his current deal this season. While they don’t have to worry about Ezekiel Elliott this season, next season is the final year of his rookie contract as well, which will surely see them back into the thick of negotiations once again.
On top of the aforementioned key pieces that the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to lock up for the future, number one cornerback Byron Jones will also be playing on the last year of his current contract as we enter this upcoming season. Although most tend to think that they will surely lock Jones up for the future, do we need to see more from Jones before committing top flight money to the defensive back?
As mentioned and although he is often talked about amongst the upper echelon cornerbacks in the NFL, is he worth the top of the market money that it will take to resign him to a new deal? The way it usually works with contracts in the NFL is based on the “market rate”, or what the last guy was paid in relation to what the latest or new guy stands to make. Based on this theory, Josh Norman would be a good guy to take a look at.
When Norman signed his deal with the Washington Redskins in 2016, he did so at five years for $75 million, with $36.5 million of that money being of the guaranteed variety. What is also worth mentioning about Norman however is that in all of his pro seasons except for two. One in which he only played in seven games and started none, he has recorded at least one interception. In four of his seven seasons, Norman has recorded multiple interceptions, recording three or more in 2015, 2016, and last season in 2018.
These are all important factors to consider when thinking about what Byron Jones may get on a new deal because to compare with the 13 career interceptions that Norman is responsible for, Jones only has two, and only in three fewer seasons. In today’s NFL more than ever, defensive players need to be playmakers when it comes to making huge stops when necessary and forcing takeaways or turnovers.
Yes, Byron Jones has been one of the least targeted corners in the league which is a good thing in general, but is that a bad thing as far as determining his actual value? Here is what Profootballfocus.com had to say about their #12 graded corner of 2018, whom they actually had ranked number five in a list of the “Top-25 cornerbacks in the NFL in 2018“.
"One of PFF’s top-10 breakout players from 2018, Jones season at corner was so dominant it makes you wonder why he ever was stuck at safety in the first place. PFF’s first-team All-Pro corner allowed a 53.6 percent catch rate and had 10 pass breakups."
When looking at these facts, the fact that he had such a low catch rate percentage and 10 pass breakups, it makes you wonder how he didn’t convert any of those into interceptions. With his tremendous athleticism and abilities at the position, it further confuses when thinking about the fact that he only has two over his career.
So to answer the question, do we need to see more from Byron Jones before offering him that mega deal that could make him one of the highest paid defenders in the league? Yes, we do. If you are going to pay a player that type of money, he has to affect the game dramatically.
The pass breakups are wonderful, awesome, and greatly lauded, but he just has to convert some of those opportunities where he gets hands on the ball into takeaways. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that he should not be rewarded for what he has accomplished over the last few seasons, but it should influence the potential size or amount for which the Cowboys offer him.
They cannot afford to give him the top of the market money if he does not perform up to the level of those who make that same top of the market money. Right now, he isn’t doing that and until we see him do just a bit more, the Dallas Cowboys should feel that way as well.