Ex-Cowboys Starter Takes Shot at Dallas After Joining NFC Rival

Jerry Jones

Getty Jerry Jones

Two days after regaining employment, former Dallas Cowboys safety Xavier Woods explained his decision to sign with the Minnesota Vikings amid the second wave of NFL free agency.

“The Vikings wanted me,” Woods said Monday, via Pro Football Talk. “I talked to (head coach Mike Zimmer) and he told me that I had an opportunity to come and play. That’s all I can ask for.”

That sounds like sour grapes and reads like a veiled shot at the Cowboys, who let the 48-game starter rot on the unrestricted free-agent market. Worse yet, the team signed not one, not two, but three safeties (Keanu Neal, Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee) in response to Woods’ expired contract — an indictment on his future, or lack thereof, with the organization.

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Attractive Destination

To be fair, the prospect of a revenge game in 2021 (Dallas and Minnesota are scheduled to face off this fall) wasn’t the only reason Woods took his talents to the purple and gold, where he’ll reunite with his college defensive backs coach, Karl Scott, and play aside two of the sport’s best DBs, Harrison Smith and fellow newcomer Patrick Peterson.

“Just as much as I was preparing for Minnesota’s offense, I was watching Harrison,” Woods said of last year’s game between the Cowboys and Vikings, via Pro Football Talk. “That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to be here, to be able to learn from him, be able to play (with him). And not only Harrison, but (Patrick Peterson).”

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Dallas Resume

A 2017 sixth-round draft pick, Woods made 60 career appearances, all in Dallas. He’s totaled 247 combined tackles (172 solo), 18 pass breakups, five interceptions, and three forced fumbles across four seasons.

Woods enjoyed a solid two-year stretch from 2018-19, registering 91 solo tackles, 14 PBUs, and four INTs over that span. Unfortunately for Dallas’ defense, he fell off a cliff in 2020 — no picks, one pass deflection — and eventually was usurped by Donovan Wilson as the team’s top safety.

Unfortunately for Woods, he likely will be best remembered as a Cowboy for matter-of-factly admitting to “a lack” of effort and arguing it’s “not possible” to go “full speed” every snap under ex-defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

“Our effort’s been good. I mean on certain plays some guys, I mean me included, there may be a lack but overall the effort is there,” he said last October on 105.3 The Fan. “I mean you don’t expect, we’re in the NFL, you don’t expect guys (to go) full speed for 70 plays. That’s not possible. We’re going to push as hard as we can. You don’t expect a backside corner to make a play on the opposite side. (If) he’s running full speed the whole time it’s just not possible to be honest.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL