Per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys on Thursday signed Kazee to a one-year “prove-it deal.”
Additional terms of the deal are not available at press time.
Kazee is the third safety added by Dallas in this year’s free agency cycle; they inked Keanu Neal on Saturday and Jayron Kearse on Wednesday. He’s also the eighth out-of-house player — and the sixth defender — to put pen to paper with the team, joining outside linebacker Tarell Basham, defensive linemen Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins, offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe, and long snapper Jake McQuaide.
Kazee and Kearse worked out in-person for the team, undergoing thorough medical evaluations prior to receiving contract offers. The Cowboys, too, hosted free-agent S Malik Hooker, who’s “likely to continue [his] career elsewhere,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
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Pro Background on Kazee
A 2017 fifth-round pick, Kazee has totaled 199 tackles (137 solo), 13 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, and five forced fumbles across 52 career games (34 starts) — all in Atlanta.
Kazee, who turns 28 in June, experienced his best season in 2018, tying for the league lead with seven interceptions. He notched another three picks the following season, an ascending talent under ex-Falcons head coach and new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
His 2020 campaign, however, was cut short by a torn Achilles’ tendon, which limited him to just 20 tackles and zero INTs over four games. Kazee’s rookie deal expired, and the Falcons opted to part ways.
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Kazee (5-11, 190) was a decorated collegian at San Diego State, twice named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year (2015, 2016) as well as First-Team All-Mountain West. He appeared in 53 games for the Aztecs, posting 240 combined tackles (171 solo), 29 PBUs, and 17 INTs.
Although not the tallest or most physically imposing cover man, Kazee’s versatility (cornerback/safety) and ball skills appealed to draft analysts who positioned him, correctly, as a mid-round selection.
“A three-year starter at San Diego State, Damontae Kazee was a certified playmaker over the last two seasons, collecting 15 interceptions,” reads his Bleacher Report scouting profile. “Kazee, who almost declared for last year’s draft, is a quick, instinctive cornerback with obvious skills flipping the field. He is naturally quick and plays faster than he was timed.
“He has a knack for making plays and has great timing to close on the ball. His toughness shouldn’t be questioned, no matter his size. Kazee will fight with receivers at the line or through the route. In zone coverage, he is a natural fit and may be able to play on the outside of an NFL defense. If not, he’s a top-notch contributor in the slot and in special teams.”
Role in Dallas
Quinn reportedly pushed the Cowboys’ brain trust to prioritize the safety position amid the sport’s signing period, and his pleas did not fall on deaf ears. Reunited with Neal and Kazee, the team’s defensive boss now boasts an impressive troika featuring 2020 incumbent Donovan Wilson, whom the organization is high on.
Neal is expected to be deployed at weakside linebacker, though, leaving Kazee and Kearse to split reps opposite Wilson while chipping in on special teams for coordinator John Fassel.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL