Cornerback Byron Jones isn't worried about how his former team will get on without him.
"One thing that the Dallas Cowboys do a really good job at is drafting good young players," Jones told Jon Machota of The Athletic. "They have a whole bunch of good corners on that team—no question about that—and those guys will be just fine without me."
Thanks to large paydays commanded by quarterback Dak Prescott and wideout Amari Cooper, the Cowboys were short on salary-cap space to re-sign Jones.
The Dolphins reportedly gave Jones a five-year, $82 million deal with $54.5 million guaranteed. The Cowboys simply couldn't have offered that much.
After a season in which Jones recorded 46 total tackles, six pass deflections and a forced fumble on a top-10 defense in the league, the contract is justified.
That leaves Dallas with a secondary featuring Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods. The Cowboys also added Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy to solidify their defense.
Considering Jones was a homegrown product selected 27th overall in 2015, losing him likely hurts more than usual. Yet Dallas has a sturdy recent history of developing cornerbacks. Lewis, the team's third-round pick in 2017, recorded 38 combined tackles, two picks and six pass deflections last season, while Awuzie added 79 total tackles, 14 deflections and an interception.
The NFC East appears as wide-open as it has been in years in 2020, and having Jones covering some of the game's top receivers would have been a huge boon for the Cowboys' chances.
Instead, they'll have to rely on their drafting and player development again. As the coaching staff changes over from Jason Garrett to Mike McCarthy, that's one area where the team can't afford a drop-off.
Reported deals via NFL.com's free-agency tracker.