The Dallas Cowboys roster-building philosophy is framed around developing homegrown talents acquired via the draft and (hopefully) extending them when the bill on their second contract comes due.
Like anything in the NFL, it’s not that simple. In a perfect world, the Cowboys would extend every player they drafted who exceeded or met expectations depending on the round they were taken. Randy Gregory, Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Cedrick Wilson, and Connor Williams are just some of the players who fill that bill.
Ironically, three of those players — Jones, Wilson, and Williams — signed with the Dolphins. Just one of them has found success in Miami.
With Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle dominating the target share, Wilson struggled carving out a role in the Dolphins’ passing game. Jones, on the other hand, has struggled staying on the field, and the buzz coming out of South Beach indicates the former first-round pick could be on the chopping block this offseason.
After not playing a single game in 2022, it’s highly possible Miami makes Jone one of countless cap casualties in the NFL in future weeks.
What happened to former Cowboys defensive star Byron Jones?
Fans weren’t happy about Jones leaving after the 2019-20 season, but the Cowboys simply weren’t going acquiesce to his demands. When the dust settled, Jones inked a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Dolphins, including $40 million fully guaranteed, and at least $54 million over the first three years.
That contract has been a disaster for Miami. In his first two seasons, Jones played 30 of a possible 33 regular season games. Though durable, his production left something to be desired, as he produced a 62.5 coverage grade from PFF while allowing a combined 104.3 QB rating, to go with just two interceptions.
Jones was never a big turnover guy in Dallas, but he was almost always a stud in coverage, so it was a worthwhile trade-off.
In 2022, Jones lost whatever good faith he had with Miami’s fan base. He underwent surgery on his left Achilles tendon back in March. The operation was strictly to clean up a nagging injury he battled during the 2021 season.
Head coach Mike McDaniel stated several times throughout the offseason that Jones would be ready for Week 1. His return kept getting delayed, however, and the former Cowboys star wound up not playing a single game in 2022.
The fan base has largely turned on Jones for sitting out the entire season, and the Dolphins can now get out of his albatross of a contract by releasing him with a post-June 1 designation. Per Over The Cap, Miami can save $13.6 million against the cap with a lowly $4.75 million dead cap charge.
Still only 30 years old, Jones (if cut) will land on his feet somewhere, but any and all potential suitors — including the CB-needy Cowboys — will be hesitant to do so after his eyebrow-raising season-long absence in 2022.