FRISCO, Texas -- Tuesday's roster cutdown day is always eventful, but it was an even more intriguing day than normal for the Dallas Cowboys. They flipped 2021 second-round pick cornerback Kelvin Joseph to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for 2020 first-round pick cornerback Noah Igbinoghene. A swap of two underperforming cornerbacks in the hopes that one team's trash could be another team's treasure. Igbinoghene wasn't actively looking for a trade, so his life completely changed just before practice with the Dolphins on Tuesday.
"I was going to practice on Tuesday, they stopped me before practice, and they told me was I getting traded and to go upstairs, " Igbinoghene said Thursday. "I talked to [Dolphins general manager] Chris [Grier], and he told me I was coming over here. It's a blessing. I'm excited to be here, ready to work."
The Auburn alum was the 30th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and he walked into a cornerbacks room in Miami with a couple of established Pro Bowlers in 2020 First-Team All-Pro Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Now, he has that same opportunity to learn from two top talents at his position in Dallas' Trevon Diggs, whose 17 interceptions are the most in the league since 2020, and Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
"I kind of related to like when I got drafted, it was Byron Jones and it was Xavien Howard, just kind of coming into a room like that," Igbinoghene said. "And so with [Trevon] Diggs and [Stephon] Gilmore, guys who have experience in this league and play at a high level, I get to learn and grow and really develop and kind of steal some things from them as well. It's an amazing corner group, and I'm excited for getting coached as well. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it."
What the Cowboys will likely have him do, play a lot of man coverage, is right in Igbinoghene's wheelhouse. Dallas lined up in man coverage on 27.2% of their snaps in 2022, the ninth-highest rate in the entire NFL.
"When I first moved to corner [in 2018] in college [from wide receiver], I came up first as a corner in a man [coverage] system," Igbinoghene said. "They do a lot of that here, so I get to really go back to what I was doing. ... This is a really aggressive defense."
Because of the position switch, he didn't imagine going pro after his junior year, but the first-round selection validated his decision to do so. Now, he needs to do the same with the Cowboys' belief in him.
"God has given me a blessing with another opportunity, a new fresh start," Igbinoghene said. "I can start over and show this coach staff and show my teammates what I can do, so they can respect and trust me. I'm ready for it. The stuff that I went through in Miami, it built me, built my character, and I needed to go through that."
At 23, Igbinoghene is living differently than he did as a 20-year-old rookie.
"Honestly, there was, there was a certain standard of life, he said. "I was living in college, and I thought it was going to translate to the league and obviously it didn't. So, there's a lot of things just as a man I needed to learn. I feel like crisis really grows you. So that crisis really developed the character I needed. I didn't even know this was going to happen two days ago, but it's something I've been praying about [a fresh start]."
The restart to his career provides the chance for Igbinoghene to re-establish his football reputation and begin a new career trajectory. Now, he gets to do in the NFL's brightest lights with "America's Team."
"I definitely needed the fresh start," Igbinoghene said. "My career hasn't really gone to my expectations, and I'm still young, 23 years old. There's a lot of stuff I went through but it made me the man I am today, and I get a new fresh start, new opportunity, and to be around new, fresh faces.
"It's an amazing opportunity to be here and play for this team. So, I'm hoping to thrive here and I'm gonna put the work in and see how it goes."