Cowboys Rumors: Byron Jones Expected to Become Highest-Paid DB in NFL History

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 11, 2020

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones plays against the Detroit Lions during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

When NFL free agency begins March 18, Byron Jones is expected to set a new benchmark for defensive back contracts. 

Per NFL.com's Tom Pelissero, teams are anticipating Jones, who has spent his entire five-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, will command a deal worth between $16-18 million per season.

Per Over the Cap, Xavien Howard of the Miami Dolphins owns the highest average annual salary among defensive backs at $15,050,000. 

The Dallas Cowboys seem likely to at least let Jones test the market at this point, though there is still time for things to change leading up to free agency. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported on Feb. 28 that Dallas is expected to use the exclusive franchise tag on Dak Prescott, which would guarantee him around $33 million for next season. 

Rapoport did note the Cowboys were still negotiating with Prescott about a long-term deal to potentially keep the franchise tag available. 

Per ESPN's Todd Archer, the Cowboys "seem resigned" to losing Jones in free agency because most of their attention has been on retaining Prescott, Amari Cooper and Robert Quinn. 

A first-round pick in 2015, Jones has established himself as one of the NFL's best defensive backs over the past five seasons. The 27-year-old has had the 11th-best coverage grade (74.1) over the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo

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Jones has 349 combined tackles, 43 career pass breakups and two interceptions in 79 games during his career.