3 intriguing cornerback options for the Cowboys in free agency

The Cowboys have a need at the outside cornerback position; a need they’ve been trying to permanently fill for years and a need they’re likely to address again this off-season. While the draft offers the best long-term solutions, free agency may offer something important for the short-term.

If Dallas decides to proactively address the spot with a veteran free agent, options will be out there. Such a move would insure them against an uncooperative draft and/or an underperforming rookie.

A veteran free agent could bridge the position for when homegrown talent develops and keep the Cowboys competitive at one of the game’s most important positions.

While it’s impossible to say with certainty which veterans will be underappreciated enough to fall into a price range that Dallas likes, Spotrac and Pro Football Focus have made some market predictions that could prove useful in this bargain-hunting exercise.

Peterson quietly had a brilliant season in Minnesota last year for the Vikings. The future Hall-of-Famer proved, even though his best days are probably behind him, he still has plenty more game left in his toolbox.

According to Pro Football Focus, Peterson intercepted 6.9 percent of the passes thrown his way last season (fifth in the NFL). The 32-year-old earned the best coverage grade of his career, ranking top-5 overall.

Patrick Peterson

Spotrac estimates the market value for Peterson is 1-year, $6,455,538 while PFF estimates 1-year, $5 million. Both estimates represent steals to a cornerback-needy team like the Cowboys. A one or two year deal wouldn’t block progress for long and with Diggs and DaRon Bland already on staff, it would help form a dynamic trio of cornerbacks in Dallas.

There’s no telling when the inevitable wall will hit for Peterson. He’ll turn 33 by the time the 2023 season starts so a decline could come at any time. But over the past two seasons in Minnesota, Peterson kept completion percentages below 60 percent, and passer ratings below 80 (the latter, something neither Diggs nor Brown were able to do with the Cowboys last season).

Byron Jones

The operative word in free agency is “free” and Jones is technically under contract with Miami, leaving him anything but free. But recent rumors and his season-long tenuous situation indicate that might only be a temporary hurdle and Jones could find himself a free agent in the not-too-distant future.

After signing with the Dolphins in 2020, things didn’t get off to a great start for Jones. His yards per completion ballooned from 11.6 in Dallas to 17.6 with the Dolphins. Passer rating when targeted went up from 87.7 to 108.0. And his missed tackle percentage jumped from 2.1 to 19.6.

After suffering an Achilles injury, Jones missed the entire 2022 campaign. The situation was confusing with the appearance more things were going on behind the scenes than what the official statements were indicating. as noted in the links above.

As many recall, Jones previously played for the Cowboys, enjoying arguably his best season as a pro in 2019. Jones was a polarizing figure that year in Dallas. He provided sticky coverage and extremely low target rates but he struggled with interceptions, only logging two across five seasons with the Cowboys.

The 6-foot-1, 194-pound boundary corner could be the perfect complement to Trevon Diggs opposite him. Jones plays the position more cautiously and by the book while Diggs thrives on loose play and ball hawking. As a former safety, Jones is regarded as a solid open field tackler – an area in which Diggs is often criticized.

Assuming Jones is indeed released, he’ll need to repair his image after the Miami situation. What better place than the city where he built up his stellar reputation in the first place?

If Jones is healthy, he’d be a clear upgrade over anyone currently on the Cowboys roster and a marked improvement over Anthony Brown, who manned the position last season.

Troy Hill

The Cowboys notoriously build through the draft. It keeps costs low and keeps player progression headed in the right direction. Because of this, they are fully expected to hit the cornerback position early in the upcoming draft.

While deals to players like Peterson or Jones would check boxes at the top of the depth chart, they could act as a roadblock if they insist on multiple years and the hypothetical rookie hits the ground running. If that’s a concern, perhaps a lower-tier free agent is the better solution.

Hill is an unspectacular but relatively safe free agent signing. The 31-year-old veteran has spent most of his career with the Rams, where he posted his most productive season as a pro, accumulating 10 pass deflections, three interceptions and two touchdowns, two seasons ago.

Coming off an injury-riddled year in Los Angeles, Hill looks to rebound in 2023 and won’t likely command a major commitment. Spotrac estimates a one-year, $3,600,000 market value for the eight-year vet. Such a deal would make him an ideal band-aid and bridge for the position in 2023.

Playing across from Jalen Ramsey, Hill has experience playing opposite greatness. He would be well prepared to play alongside Trevon Diggs in Dallas and keenly aware he’ll be targeted heavily as a result.

Out of 118 graded cornerbacks, Hill ranked 54th by Pro Football Focus. He’s steadily graded as a middle-of-the-road cornerback with fairly consistent completion numbers against. Hill has inside/outside ability but again, logged most of his snaps on the boundary in 2022.

Is Hill better than Anthony Brown?

No. But with Brown coming off a serious injury and set to be a free agent himself, his return doesn’t appear to be a solution at the moment. Hill is simply a low-cost/low commitment veteran who will provide the Cowboys insurance should younger options not pan out immediately.


Since cornerback is one of the most talented positions groups in the draft, Dallas is likely to target the position early. But as they know all too well, prospects don’t always hit the ground running and some never meet the levels they were once projected to reach.

With the postseason again the goal in 2023, the Cowboys would be wise to bring in a veteran free agent. It’s important to point out, Dallas rarely spends big in free agency so dreams of signing players like Marcus Peters, Jamel Dean, or James Bradberry to big multi-year deals are probably a little pie-in-the-sky (based on Spotec salary projections).

If Dallas stays true to form, they won’t be big bidders early in free agency but will wait until the market has cooled and target underappreciated players on short-term deals.

Will any of the above three players be underappreciated enough to fall into Dallas’ budget parameters? It’s possible, but the Cowboys may have to meet a couple of these players halfway and show a little urgency in their pursuit.

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