This veteran defender's future with the Cowboys looks more uncertain by the day

Rising stars in the secondary complicate this Cowboys veteran's future.
Jourdan Lewis closes in on Bengals' receiver Ja'Maar Chase during their matchup on Sept. 18, 2022.
Jourdan Lewis closes in on Bengals' receiver Ja'Maar Chase during their matchup on Sept. 18, 2022. / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

On the first day of training camp, Dak Prescott dropped back to throw in a seven-on-seven drill.

He fired a pass to Simi Fehoko, who was crossing the middle of the field on a slant. The ball was on the money, but it bounced off Fehoko’s waiting hands.

Right in position to capitalize on the mistake was rookie sixth-rounder Eric Scott Jr. He grabbed the ball out of the air for his first training camp interception, further amplifying the buzz that’s surrounded him all offseason as he continues to impress onlookers.

But he may not have gotten that rep if Jourdan Lewis didn’t have to start camp on the PUP list with the Lisfranc injury he suffered last season. And if Scott and others continue to make plays, Lewis may not be on the roster when the Cowboys travel to Metlife Stadium for the season opener.

Are Jourdan Lewis' days with the Cowboys numbered?

Lewis suffered the injury during the Cowboys’ Week 7 win over the Lions, during his only interception of the season. He was having a solid season to that point — allowing a passer rating of just 74.2 when targeted, according to Pro Football Reference.

But his injury — one that is generally more harmful to basketball players like the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chet Holmgren — was more than severe. In fact, it was one of the worst Lisfranc injuries Lewis’s doctor had seen in 35 years, according to The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore.

Moore added that the injury required “screws, nuts and bolts” and forced the longtime Cowboys’ cornerback into a boot until late March.

Given the severity of the injury and the length of recovery, Lewis may not be 100% by the start of the season. If he’s not healthy, it makes the decision to let him go much simpler.

His injury opened the door for a breakout season from DaRon Bland, another player who’s leapfrogged Lewis on the depth chart. Even if Lewis is healthy, it’s hard to envision the Cowboys starting him over a rising star off a five-interception rookie campaign.

Lewis will turn 28 at the end of the month. He’s set to add just over $5.87 million to the cap, and cutting him would save the Cowboys just over $4.7 million, according to Spotrac. His contract expires at the end of the season.

Jones’s comments about Zack Martin last weekend make it clear he feels pressed for cash. $5 million isn’t a lot of money, but small budget cuts like such lead to the financial stability Jones obsesses over.

Scott continues to impress. Kelvin Joseph is a staple on special teams — he’s not easily replaceable on a rookie deal. Israel Mukuamu also provided a slot-corner changeup in the playoffs as a big and physical presence; he’s capable of taking reps. And second-year safety Junayeh Thomas has reportedly impressed in coverage early in training camp.

Lewis is a staple in the Dallas locker room. He’s tied for the fifth-longest tenured Cowboy, behind just Prescott, Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyron Smith. Mike McCarthy touted his leadership abilities following last year’s injury, a sentiment that has echoed throughout the organization for years.

It’s now up to the Cowboys front office to weigh how much they believe leadership costs. They’ve held onto other veterans for longer than some fans may have liked — like Tyrone Crawford and Jeff Heath — because of leadership qualities. It would be far from unprecedented to hold onto Lewis a little longer.

But with a flurry of pending free agents, a Martin extension due soon and a Parsons extension down the line, the Jones’s need every cent they can get. That may come at Lewis’s expense. It soon may be the end of an era in the cornerback room for Dallas.

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