Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones is by far the best defensive back available in 2020 free agency, and the 2018 Pro Bowler is reportedly looking to earn a record payday.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, some clubs expect Jones “to command $16 million to $18 million a year in free agency.” Such a contract would make the 27-year-old the highest-paid defensive back ever, per Pelisseor.
Jones certainly stands a chance to land a contract in that $16-18 million vicinity. This year’s free agent class is loaded with big-named quarterbacks (Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston, among others), offensive linemen (Brandon Scherff, Joe Thuney, Jack Conklin, more) and pass-rushers (Yannick Ngakoue, Shaq Barrett and Jadevon Clowney).
After Jones, Justin Simmons is probably the best player among defensive backs, but all signs point towards the Denver Broncos retaining him. Chris Harris Jr. (entering his age-31 season) and James Bradberry are probably the next best corners available after Jones.
Right now, Xavien Howard ($15.05 million), Eddie Jackson ($14.6 million) and Trumaine Johnson ($14.5 million, likely to be released by the New York Jets), stand as the three highest-paid corners, per OverTheCap.com.
If Jones does receive around $16 to $18 million annually on his new deal, it’s unlikely to come from the Cowboys. They’ll likely prioritize retaining Prescott and Pro Bowl wideout Amari Cooper, who both remain surprisingly unsigned – with free agency now just a month away.
Jones was drafted 27th overall by the Cowboys in 2015, and he’s developed as a mainstay in their secondary. He earned Pro Bowl and Second-team All-Pro selections in 2018 after recording 14 passes defended.
Jones gave the Cowboys a reliable lockdown corner that they lacked for quite some time. But with a new coaching staff in place, and with the Cowboys limited in cap space, it’s unlikely that Jones will continue his career with America’s Team. But a team out there will happily pay Jones well over $10 million annually on his next deal.
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