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Cowboys retain cornerback Jourdan Lewis to bolster defensive backfield

The Dallas Cowboys continued their free agency plan of recent years of favoring their own players by re-signing DB Jourdan Lewis to a new contract
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis warms up before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

DALLAS — The methodical approach to free agency continues for the Dallas Cowboys. As fans begin to vent on social media, the Cowboys are following their plans and assessing their needs from within as the league year begins.

With other teams in the division making moves on bigger name players, true to form under Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, the Cowboys have been focused on keeping players they know well. 

Their latest investment in their own personnel was re-signing cornerback Jourdan Lewis. The 13-game starter in 2020 has been inked on a deal for three-years with a maximum value of $16.5 million and $8 million guaranteed. The four-year veteran CB is the fifth player Dallas has retained since free agency opened.

Lewis’ play has been inconsistent since he entered the league, but his best seasons were under former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. The Cowboys will be heading back to more of the style of defense that they ran under Marinelli with Dan Quinn in the fold. The new DC must have seen enough in Lewis to convince the team to bring him back.

Despite the rough year in 2020, Lewis does bring some good things to the table. He’s a good slot corner who is an adept blitzer (six career sacks), is a willing tackler (13 career tackles for loss) and has a knack for getting his hands on the ball. 

Lewis has four interceptions and 19 pass breakups during his first four years in the league. That might not sound like much, but for a defense that has had trouble creating turnovers, Lewis is around the ball more consistently than many of his teammates. Lewis’ resume also includes four fumble recoveries, for example.

The Cowboys and Quinn might also be willing to see what Lewis can do as a safety. Lewis is a strong tackler and has the coverage skills to excel in space if given the opportunity. It remains to be seen what spot in the secondary is in Lewis’ future, but the safety possibility is out there.

We’ll see where Dallas envisions Lewis playing, but one thing that is more obvious is the team chose Lewis over fellow corner Chidobe Awuzie. The two were both free agents and came into the league in the same draft class from 2017, but the Cowboys kept the third-round pick out of Michigan instead of the second-round pick from Colorado.

There are always factors that could’ve gone into making this decision, perhaps Awuzie was too expensive for the Cowboys or maybe the team just felt that Lewis was the better player. Either way, Lewis stays in Dallas and Awuzie is now a former Cowboy heading off to play for the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Cowboys needed help in the secondary and with the amount of free agents in the defensive backfield, they had to make some decisions. Keeping Lewis gives the defense three cornerbacks with experience and softens the need for taking a CB in the first round of the draft. The secondary is still a priority, but Dallas gave themselves some flexibility by re-signing Lewis.

The Cowboys remain committed to keeping their own players and Lewis is the latest example of the team building from within. Could a position change and better results follow? Those appear to be the bigger questions that will be answered in 2021.

Are you happy to see Jourdan Lewis returning to the Dallas Cowboys? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.

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