NFL free agency is in full swing and the Dallas Cowboys, as usual, have all eyes on them. After a slow start to the frenzy, the Cowboys picked it up Thursday by signing Carlos Watkins, Brent Urban, and Tarell Basham to their defensive front.
The day before, however, the Cowboys brought back one of their own at a very key position, cornerback. Jourdan Lewis, a former third-round pick of the Cowboys in 2017, re-signed to America’s Team on a three-year, $16.5 million dollar deal according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
CB Jourdan Lewis is returning to the Dallas Cowboys on a 3-year deal worth a max of $16.5 million, including $8M guaranteed, per his agent @VIPSports_Mgt.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 17, 2021
Lewis was one of the top corners on the collegiate level during his days at Michigan. His career in the NFL got off to a fast start as he logged 54 tackles, an interception, and 10 pass breakups in 15 games (7 starts). In 2018, unfortunately, his time on the field took a major hit when the Cowboys hired Kris Richard as its defensive backs coach. Richard preferred tall and lengthy corners and at 5’10 Lewis got lost in the shuffle. He appeared in 15 games but only registered 187 defensive snaps and produced a pedestrian 12 tackles.
Things started to turn back around for Lewis in 2019 thanks to an unfortunate injury to a teammate. Cornerback Anthony Brown suffered a torn biceps that November and was placed in injured reserve, and Lewis took full advantage. He started four of the final six games and by the season’s end, he had amassed 51 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups, four sacks, a fumble recovery, and a defensive touchdown.
After the most productive season of his pro career to that point, Lewis interviewed with DallasCowboys.com’s Nick Eatman, David Helman, and Rob Phillips and talked about getting a fresh start with a new coaching staff.
“It’s definitely a clean slate,” Lewis said. “You know everybody has a clean slate and they’re just looking at what we’ve done in the past. They’re looking at the sample size that they do have to go out there and watch us and watch the film and the movements, and they see what they want to implement in their new defense. And they said that everybody has a clean slate. It doesn’t matter how big, tall, how long you’ve been here, it doesn’t matter. If you can play ball they want to see you in that position to go and compete for that job. I appreciate them for saying that. It’s definitely a different mindset as far as just giving everybody a fair shot. Giving everybody an opportunity to go out there and play, regardless of circumstances that, previously I had to go through.”
Brown had to battle injuries once again in 2020 which gave Lewis another opportunity to show his worth. He produced a career-high 59 tackles but the change to the Cowboys scheme under former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan didn’t let him impact games like he did the previous year. The Cowboys brought in Dan Quinn to be the team’s new defensive coordinator in January, and the change back to a traditional 4-3 scheme will suit Lewis’s talents a lot better.
Lewis and Brown are the Cowboys slot corners. Although Brown has a slightly higher number of snaps than Lewis during their time as teammates, the latter has proven to be the better player when he’s on the field. During the Cowboy’s three-game win streak last season, the argument can be made that Lewis was the Cowboy’s most effective corner.
The Cowboys still have to find their number two corner to play opposite 2020 second-round pick, Trevon Diggs. However, with himself and Lewis ready to role for the 2021 season, plus Brown returning from injury, the Cowboys are in pretty good shape at cornerback.
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