Cowboys Considered Potential Trade Suitor for All-Pro Safety

Mike McCarthy

Getty The Cowboys and Mike McCarthy could pursue Bengals safety Jessie Bates.

The Dallas Cowboys could be a potential suitor for one of the top young safeties in the NFL.

According to Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report, Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates is an NFL veteran who should seek a trade prior to the start of the 2022 season. Bates is currently under the team franchise tag after Tyler Dragon of USA Today reported back in February he wasn’t interested in playing under such circumstances.

With Bates being a no-show for offseason team activities, Davenport mentions the Cowboys as a team could use a “boost on the back end” from Bates.

“If Bates really is set against playing under the tag, then this is the kind of distraction the Bengals don’t need,” says Davenport. “With the Philadelphia Eagles already being mentioned as a potential suitor and other contenders like the Dallas Cowboys in need of a boost on the back end, the best bet for all parties could be a clean break.”

As Bates mentioned during an interview on NFL Now, top guys have become injured while playing under the franchise tag — hurting their chances of a big contract.

“That’s something that needs to be discussed at NFLPA a little bit. Some of the top guys got hurt under a franchise tag,” Bates told NFL NOW on Feb. 23. “It’s tough. You only get one shot at this. You just got to play your cards right, I guess you could say.”

Cowboys Could Upgrade With Bates on Back End

The Cowboys don’t necessarily need a starting free safety with Malik Hooker likely occupying the role for the 2022 season. Although Hooker wasn’t a full-time starter last season, he did see playing time on 44% of defensive snaps and posted a 70.4 defensive grade, according to Pro Football Focus. That grade actually ranked Hooker as the 28th-top safety in the league.

With that being said, Hooker hasn’t started a full season at safety since the 2019 campaign with the Indianapolis Colts. Acquiring a player of Bates’ caliber immediately lifts the Cowboys to another level.

Although Bates’ play slipped during the 2021 season, his postseason performance reinforced why he garnered a Second-Team All-Pro selection in 2020. The 25-year-old posted a ridiculous 90.0 defensive grade during the postseason. For perspective, the next-best safety was Antoine Winfield Jr, who lagged far behind with an 81.9 defensive grade.

Bates allowed just four receptions for 33 yards during the postseason while picking off two passes. In fact, Bates ranked as the Bengals’ highest-rated player on defense during their run to the Super Bowl. The four-year veteran actually was the third-highest rated defensive player of the postseason, only behind Von Miller and Willie Gay.

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Bates Could Emerge as X-Factor for Cowboys

While Bates clearly showed his ceiling when it counted most, one also has to acknowledge his underwhelming regular season. Bates posted just a 56.1 defensive grade during the 2021 season.

But if Bates really is serious about not playing under the tag and the Cowboys have the opportunity to add another ball-hawking player to their defensive backfield, Dallas might want to strike if the opportunity presents itself.

With the Cowboys in win-now mode and desperately craving a deep playoff run — they haven’t made it to the conference championship game since 1995 — acquiring one of the top defensive playmakers in the game could make a world of difference for Dallas’ playoff hopes.


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