Cowboys Advised to Sign ‘Prime’ Jaylon Smith Replacement

Bradley McDougald

Getty Bradley McDougald

In light of safety Damontae Kazee’s recent arrest and the departure of linebacker Jaylon Smith, there may exist for the Dallas Cowboys an ideal hybrid alternative: Bradley McDougald.

This, according to Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, who argued the Cowboys should sign the veteran free-agent defensive back. Ballentine pointed primarily to starting linebacker Keanu Neal, a converted safety and apparent coverage liability, as precedent to make the deal with McDougald.

“The problem is that Neal’s pass coverage has still been an issue. He’s given up nine completions on nine targets and is grading out as the 69th linebacker in the league by Pro Football Focus‘ metrics,” he wrote last week.

“Turning a box safety into a full-time linebacker is still a good idea. With Micah Parsons thriving as an edge-rusher, it would actually behoove the Cowboys to add depth even to fill the role left behind by Jaylon Smith.”

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Background on McDougald

A 2013 undrafted free agent out of Kansas, McDougald has amassed 490 tackles (381 solo), 43 pass breakups, and 10 interceptions across 107 career games, including 83 starts, spread between stints with Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Seattle, the Jets, and Tennessee.

The 30-year-old (in November) most recently yo-yoed from the Titans’ active roster and practice squad before being released on September 21. He appeared in one game for Tennesee, notching three tackles while logging 77 defensive snaps.

“He picked up the defense well,” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said of McDougald in September, via David Boclair of “He picked it up quickly and performed well in practice and the games. That’s really all we ask of anybody that’s coming in here new is to pick it up as fast as you can and take advantage of every opportunity you get.”

If signed, McDougald would rotate among a safety corps that features Donovan Wilson, Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker and Kazee, and a linebacker unit led by Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, and Neal.

Through six games, the 5-1 Cowboys’ defense ranks 28th against the pass (295.0 yards per game) and 23rd in total yards allowed (381.2 per game). The unit is much better against the run, however, surrendering 86.2 yards per game, fifth-fewest in the NFL.

A sub-package contributor, Kearse is the team’s leading tackler with 39 stops. Smith (18) and Kazee (17) combined for 35 tackles, the latter adding three pass deflections and one interception.

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Cowboys Comment on Kazee’s Arrest

In a radio interview last Friday, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones addressed Kazee’s October 19 arrest for driving while under the influence, a first-offense misdemeanor. Jones has yet to learn of potential discipline for Kazee, who could be suspended under the league’s personal conduct policy.

“I have not heard from the NFL. That has a protocol. … I don’t know the particulars of the arrest, so we’ll wait and see how that goes,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota.

Kazee visited with McCarthy the day after the incident took place in The Colony, a Dallas suburb not far from team headquarters. McCarthy opted against discussing his situation, citing legalities.

“I visited with Damontae today. It’s unfortunate,” he said on October 20, per The Athletic. “We’re definitely aware of everything that went on. It’s a pending legal matter right now. I really can’t comment much further than that.”

READ NEXT: Stephen Jones Sends Message to Kellen Moore on Potentially Leaving Cowboys

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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