With how inconsistent the Dallas Cowboys defense has played at times, the last thing many people may be concerned with is “which player is next in line for a big payday?”
However, no matter how the season concludes, the questions remain inevitable. With 15 defensive players set to hit the open market for Dallas in 2020, cornerback Byron Jones highlights the Cowboys latest class of free agent defenders. And after Lions receiver Kenny Golladay was held to one catch for 34 yards Sunday, getting the fifth-year corner sign may become increasingly difficult as the season wears on.
The top-five highest-paid corners currently are Xavien Howard, Josh Norman, Trumaine Johnson, Xavier Rhodes, and Patrick Peterson. 6-10 shapes out with the following: Kyle Fuller, Desmond Trufant, A.J. Bouye, Stephon Gilmore and Janoris Jenkins.
On paper, Howard, Rhodes, Peterson, and Gilmore are the only defensive backs worth comparing to Jones.
Let’s breakdown their numbers when faced against teams number one receivers. Howard, when matched up against Amari Cooper in week three was targeted eight times. Cooper recorded eight catches for 127 yards.
Against Keenan Allen in week eight, on 12 targets, Howard allowed 10 catches for 95 yards.
For Rhodes, against DeVante Adams in week two, he gave up seven catches on nine targets for 91 yards.
Since his return from suspension, receivers have enjoyed solid days against former all-pro Patrick Peterson. He gave up 9 for 81 against Michael Thomas, 9 for 132 against Emmanuel Sanders and four for 73 against Mike Evans.
Gilmore has been the best of that group with his worst game coming in a six-catch, 73-yard outing against Odell Beckham Jr.
Jones’s 2019 resume has been outstanding. Six games allowing two or fewer catches. Two games allowing zero catches (Preston Williams, MIA; Alshon Jeffery, PHI). 47% catch rate (third in the NFL) And only 5.6 yards per catch (sixth in the NFL).
Washington receiver Terry McLaurin enjoyed the best day of any receiver against Jones. On 10 targets, he hauled in five for 62 yards.
Jones’ notable matchup came in week four against New Orleans where he allowed three catches for 29 yards against Michael Thomas.
Lack of turnovers has been the prominent argument against Jones, but it’s also increasingly difficult to create turnovers the fewer opportunities you get at them. Compared to the class of 2019 Pro Bowl corners, Jones hs the second-lowest target rate (16.7%).
Chris Harris Jr. is slightly in front of him at 15% and has one interception on the season.
The top five leaders in interceptions this year are Janoris Jenkins, 4; Marcus Peters, 4; Richard Sherman, 3; Stephon Gilmore, 3; and Desmond Trufant, 3. Jenkins, Peters, Sherman, and Gilmore are all outside the top-25 in the lowest target percentage compared to Byron who is seventh.
Like it or not, if not by fans, Jones is recognized as an elite corner around the NFL. And, unless he gives a hometown discount, his asking price will/should reflect what the market will pay him.
Note: all statistics were provided by PlayerProfiler.com
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