Cowboys now have perfect Stephon Gilmore replacement in surprising cap casualty

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

One of the more interesting Dallas Cowboys storylines to watch this offseason is whether they re-sign Stephon Gilmore. Acquired from the Colts last March for a 2023 fifth-round pick, Gilmore is on the record saying he has unfinished business with the Cowboys and would like to come back.

"For sure, I want to be back," Gilmore told 105.3 The Fan in February. "I for sure think we have the pieces to get to where we want to be, and I want to be a part of that. March is when free agency starts, so hopefully we can get something done."

That's as clear of a message Gilmore could send to the Cowboys. He showed his age on occasion, but by all accounts had a strong season. He performed at a high level despite being thrust into a star role after Trevon Diggs' ACL injury.

Re-signing Gilmore should be one of Dallas' top priorities, but the 33-year-old could have a big market in free agency. It won't be easy to keep Gilmore, but the Cowboys now have a perfect fallback option if he signs elsewhere after the Jaguars surprisingly released veteran Darious Williams.

Darious Williams is perfect Stephon Gilmore replacement for the Cowboys

Though releasing Williams will save $11.5 million in cap room, this is a puzzling move for a Jacksonville team that has major questions at cornerback. That's of zero concern to the Cowboys, however. A Super Bowl LVI champ with the Rams, Williams is coming off a fantastic season in coverage with the Jags.

Williams allowed a 69.6 passer rating when targeted (seventh-lowest among CBs) and recored 15 pass breakups and four interceptions. Only 49ers star Charvarius Ward had more PBUs than Williams in 2023 and Williams' 35 passes defended over the last two seasons are the most in the NFL.

Additionally, Williams' 85.3 coverage grade ranked fourth at the position and he only allowed two touchdowns in 705 coverage snaps, which were the second-most of any cornerback, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Williams turns 31 in a few weeks, but unless he gets old out of nowhere some team is going to get a really solid player. He plays almost exclusively on the outside, which fits perfectly with Dallas' personnel as it would allow DaRon Bland to return to his familiar nickel position.

Williams will generate significant interest between now and the start of free agency. The Cowboys might have to outbid teams for his signature. If Stephon Gilmore slips through the cracks, though, pivoting to Williams for $7-9 million would be a masterful piece of business by the front office.

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