Cowboys' Xavier Woods, Jourdan Lewis receive hefty payout in 2020 for outperforming their rookie contracts

There's some contract news on the Dallas Cowboys front, but not yet what many were hoping for. While the team sorts out discussions with Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and others ahead of NFL free agency -- including Byron Jones and Robert Quinn -- there are some who are still under contract for 2020 but will see an increase in pay without any sort of renegotiation, thanks to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

The NFL provides performance escalators for players who have outperformed their expected impact on a team, and this year it's safety Xavier Woods and cornerback Jourdan Lewis reaping the benefits. The two starting Cowboys defensive backs will pocket an extra $500,000 this offseason, per Todd Archer of ESPN, for logging greater than 35 percent of their NFL snaps (on average) since being selected as third- and sixth-round picks in 2017, respectively. 

A source confirms this report to CBS Sports. 

The framework applies to players selected in rounds three through seven and has seen players like Prescott and cornerback Anthony Brown garner similar paydays in the past. The bonuses this year are made more intriguing by the fact that although Woods was the sixth-round pick, it was Lewis who finally got the nod as a full-time starter in 2019 -- with Woods having already achieved it at safety long ago. 

They led the team in 2019 with two interceptions apiece, and new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan wants more of that going forward.

Prior to this past season, Lewis was relegated to backup at nickel cornerback behind Brown, and it was mostly because he didn't fit the prototype of what former passing game coordinator Kris Richard deemed necessary to dominate at the NFL level. When Brown went down with an injury in 2019, however, Lewis got another shot at proving size isn't nearly as important as skill, instantly re-establishing himself as the Cowboys resident ballhawk. 

Brown would never again regain his role as a starter over Lewis, and as he enters unrestricted free agency, the presence of the latter gives the Cowboys much more leeway in deciding if they'll make the former an offer to remain in Dallas.

Outside of the two now enjoying an extra half-million-dollar payouts and the role as a starter with the Cowboys, they have at least one more thing in common. In 2021, both will become unrestricted free agents themselves, putting the team back at the table next offseason with the goal of keeping both around for the foreseeable future. They'll cross that bridge when they come to it, though, because it's all about Prescott, Cooper -- at a minimum -- this time around.

In the meantime, Woods and Lewis will get to work making sure their contract years are the best of their NFL careers so that the checks they receive in 2021 and beyond make $500,000 look like couch coins. 

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