Something Special: C.J. Goodwin’s role with Cowboys is clear; earn third-phase praise

·6 min read

Charaun Jaree Goodwin, better known as C.J., did not have the typical route to the NFL. A basketball player at Bethany College for a couple seasons before transferring to Fairmont State University, he was eventually talked into trying out for the Fighting Falcons as a college junior. He played wide receiver but wasn’t very impactful.

Goodwin moved with his coach from Fairmont to the California University of Pennsylvania where he made his name on special teams. Goodwin only produced 11 receptions for 126 yards and one touchdown as a senior, but he played in all 11 games because of his excellent play in the third phase. This did not lead to NFL interest though.

Goodwin had the size to be a WR in the NFL, but even after going undrafted in the 2014 draft, Goodwin didn’t even get interest from teams as an undrafted free agent.

Finally Mel Blount, who Goodwin worked with as a farmhand for many years, went to bat for Goodwin and got the Steelers to give him a workout that lead to him having a career in the NFL.

The next player in the Dallas Cowboys 2021 player profile is No. 29, special teams ace C.J. Goodwin.

Background Details

Jersey No.: 29 Position: Cornerback Age: 31 Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 187 pounds Hometown: Wheeling, West Virginia High School: Linsly School College: California Draft: Undrafted Acquired: 2018 free agent signing

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Stats

Games

Def Interceptions

Fumbles

Tackles

26

ATL

29

14

1

0

0

0

0

2

0.0

17

14

3

0

0

1

27

2TM

14

0

0.0

9

8

1

0

0

2

ATL

29

12

0

8

7

1

0

0

2

ARI

42

2

0

1

1

0

0

0

0

28

DAL

29

3

0

0.0

1

1

0

0

0

0

29

DAL

29

16

0

0.0

9

7

2

0

0

1

30

DAL

29

16

0

0.0

9

6

3

0

0

1

Player Profile

It took a lot to get Goodwin a chance in the NFL. Even after Mel Blount got him in the door with the Steelers, he was only a practice squad player, and was waived very quickly into his stint there. The Falcons finally changed Goodwin's fortunes in 2015 when they signed him to the practice squad and transitioned him from receiver to cornerback. Goodwin finally got real playing time. He played in 26 games with the Falcons over two seasons, including Super Bowl LI. After the Falcons, Goodwin was claimed and waived off of the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Giants, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Cincinnati Bengals before making his final stop, landing with the Dallas Cowboys in October of 2018. The Cowboys signed Goodwin off of the Bengals practice squad, but things still didn't start well for Goodwin as a Cowboy either. He went on injured reserve right away with a broken arm. After returning for two games, Goodwin broke his arm again and missed eight more games. The Cowboys believed Goodwin could improve the team as a gunner on special teams, and Goodwin finally got to play a full season for one team five years into his NFL career. He paid dividends for Dallas too, leading the team in special teams tackles. Goodwin was initially cut by the Cowboys for the 2020 season but in a planned roster manuever and was brought back soon after. Due to injuries Goodwin had an expanded roll for the Cowboys last season. Of course he continued to be the teams special teams ace, making plays like recovering the infamous "watermelon kick" in the comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons. He also had a 73-yard, trick play punt return against the Steelers on a throwback from Cedric Wilson that almost went for a TD. Beyond special teams though Goodwin got into some games as a defensive back. He was given a specialty role as a QB spy against Jalen Hurts and it resulted in corralling the dual-threat Eagles star for the first time in his career and led to a blowout win. Dallas clearly believes in Goodwin as a special teams ace, as they re-signed him to a two-year deal this offseason. He may not be a guy that gets many defensive snaps without multiple injuries, but he will likely be around 300 special teams snaps and be one of the team leaders in special teams tackles. NFL football is won by being good in all three areas, and CJ Goodwin is an ace in the special teams portion. He is the type of player that is undervalued by a big portion of fans of all teams, but those players help their teams win football games.

You can find Mike Crum on Twitter @cdpiglet or at Youtube on the About the Cowboys Podcast. This profile is part of our countdown series to the regular season. For the full 90-man roster, go here. For our 53-man roster prediction, go here.

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