The Dallas Cowboys could pursue a two-time Pro Bowl safety in free agency.
As the Cowboys brace for an eventful offseason following another one-and-done postseason exit, free agency will be key. While there may be questions concerning the future of head coach Mike McCarthy, Dallas could use an upgrade in their defensive backfield.
Dallas ranked 20th in passing yards and 18th in net yards per pass attempt allowed. This was in contrast to their overall defensive unit ranking seventh in the league in points allowed per game.
Improving the last line of defense behind standout corner Trevon Diggs go lift the Cowboys into true contender status. According to Pro Football Focus‘ Brad Spielberger, the Cowboys should pursue two-time Pro Bowl free safety Quandre Diggs.
“Longtime Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas III famously told the Dallas Cowboys to “come get me” back in 2017, and five years later Dallas could stand to go get Diggs in free agency,” says Spielberger.
“Diggs suffered an unfortunate injury in Seattle’s final game of the season but is expected to be back in plenty of time for the 2022 season. He played over 1,200 snaps in 2021, a remarkable feat by itself, and recorded 70.0-plus overall, run-defense and coverage grades for the third time in four seasons.”
Diggs was putting the finishing touches on his second consecutive Pro Bowl campaign before suffering a dislocated ankle and broken right fibula in the last game of the regular season. The 29-year-old underwent successful surgery.
Shortly after Diggs’ injury, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll explained that Diggs should be ready for the start of the 2022 season.
“Heart’s broken for him getting hurt like that,” said Carroll. “But he’ll be back. He’ll make it back. There’s some months in here (for recovery) but he’ll get back for the season next year and so that’s the positive side.”
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Cowboys Could Be Looking for New Free Safety
Three of the Cowboys’ top safeties will be free agents in the offseason — Damontae Kazee, Malik Hooker and Keanu Neal. Kazee served as the Cowboys’ starting free safety during the 2021 season and was a subpar starter to say the least. Kazee’s defensive grade of 61.8 (according to Pro Football Focus) ranked 54th among 94 qualifying safeties.
Kazee’s performance was about on par with what he’s produced his entire career. The 28-year-old has produced just one season above a 65.4 defensive grade in his five-year career.
By comparison, Diggs’ 71.6 defensive grade ranked him 29th among all safeties and he’s actually exceeded that performance in three of his six other seasons, according to PFF.
Considering it’s hard to imagine the Cowboys bringing back all three of their safeties, Diggs — despite his injury — could be targeting as the team’s new free safety.
Jones Has No Comment on Cooper’s Contract
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn’t sound too happy about Amari Cooper’s performance.
As one of the highest-paid receivers in the league, Cooper is in the midst of a five-year, $100 million deal he signed prior to the start of the 2020 season.
However, his performance this past season — 68 catches for 865 yards and eight touchdowns — doesn’t exactly justify his contract.
Jones was asked about Cooper’s contract during a recent appearance on Dallas-area radio station 105.3 The Fan.
“I don’t have any comment on Cooper’s contract,” Jones said, per The Dallas Morning News. “I thought that we were playing early when we did make [an extension] happen, I thought Cooper had a big part in that. And I’m not being trite. But how he fits in and should take half the field with him when he goes and runs the field.
“Not half, that’s an exaggeration, of course, but a whole bunch of that defense should have to honor Cooper. He ought to be able to catch it when they’re going in the middle with him. Others do. You throw to people that are covered all the time in the NFL. You have to. Most people don’t have the numbers of receivers that we have.”
Cooper’s contract makes him a prime candidate to be traded this offseason.