Every year it seems like contracts for NFL players get loftier and more significant. It certainly has happened in the quarterback market in recent years. Now, other positional players are waiting for their huge increases, too. We saw Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams get massive wide receiver contracts, which prompted guys like A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, and Terry McLaurin to hold out for contract increases. That should spark some worry in the Dallas Cowboys about receiver CeeDee Lamb who may ask for a lofty contract next year.
Now, the same thing is happening for another position group: defensive backs. Two recent signings should have the Cowboys weary about securing second-year breakout cornerback Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys cornerback is about to play in the third year of his four-year rookie deal. The defender is likely expecting a much bigger salary given he led the league in interceptions in 2021. Jaire Alexander and Denzel Ward’s recent deals do not help the front office’s chances of getting the Cowboys’ CB for cheap.
Back in April, Browns cornerback Ward signed a record-breaking five-year $100.5 million contract. This deal gave the Cleveland CB the highest annual salary, the most total guaranteed, and the most fully guaranteed out of any defensive back in the league. Surpassing Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Ward is set to average $20.1 million each year with $71.250 million guaranteed at signing. Ward will earn $60 million in the first three years. For a month, this shocked the NFL world… until Alexander signed his deal with the Green Bay Packers this week.
Despite suffering a shoulder injury that only allowed him to play in four regular season games in 2021, the Packers shelled out major money to keep Alexander around. Ward still tops the league in total value and guaranteed money, but Alexander now has the highest annual salary thanks to a four-year extension worth $84 million ($21 million per year). The contract includes a historic $30 million signing bonus, and the cornerback will receive over $42 million by next offseason. This is unheard of money for defensive backs in the NFL.
The Cowboys may need to shell out major money to keep Trevon Diggs around given Jaire Alexander and Denzel Ward’s recent CB contracts
The fact that Alexander made this much money after only playing in four regular-season games and receiving surgery is pretty remarkable. If Diggs can even partially replicate the year he had in 2021, imagine what he may be able to get for his next contract. Alexander did return to the field in the postseason, but it was a short-lived experience after the Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers.
Diggs’s rookie contract technically isn’t up until the 2024 offseason. However, next year is likely the year for the Cowboys front office to figure out an extension with the cornerback if they plan to keep him. Why? If they want him on the roster, Dallas might as well do an extension next year before the price goes up even higher.
The Cowboys can open those conversations after the 2022 season. But, will they be willing to pay Diggs what he will likely be worth? We know the front office has long struggled with last minute contracts and shopping the bargain bin. The team also did select CB DaRon Bland in the fifth-round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but it’s highly unlikely that Bland will be in a place to fully take over Diggs’s role for 2023.
Obviously, the third-year cornerback’s performance in 2022 will be highly indicative of what he earns. But you’d have to think that if Alexander and Ward are now getting paid more than Ramsey, Diggs is going to be making big money heading into his fourth season. Whether that’s from a new extension, a franchise tag, or anything else, the Cowboys are going to have to give up a lot to keep this breakout defender.