Cowboys Entering Contract Talks with ‘Breakout’ Star: Report

Jayron Kearse

Getty Leighton Vander Esch and Jayron Kearse of the Dallas Cowboys react after a defensive stop during the third quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 19, 2021.

The Dallas Cowboys are starting to make their offseason moves, and that includes sitting down with a defender who made a big impact in 2021.

Safety Jayron Kearse was somewhat of a revelation for the Cowboys in 2021. After just 12 total starts across five seasons on the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, Kearse arrived in Dallas and started 15 games, and became an important cog in the Dallas defense.

Now, Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher is reporting that Kearse could be rewarded for his impressive 2021 season.

“Meet Kearse, the 2021 poster guy for the upside of the [Cowboys’] system,” Kearse wrote. “And for 2022, a breakout player as he turns 28 who could quadruple his previous salary of $1.1 million.”

Over the Cap estimates that Kearse is worth around $5.86 million, which would be a considerable jump from his 2021 salary. However, it’s hard to say that he hasn’t earned something close to that after his impressive 2021 season.

Dallas approached the safety position in 2021 by bringing in three veteran options in Kearse, Malik Hooker, and Damontae Kazee for cheap, short deals, but now it appears they’re more willing to make a longer commitment to at least one of those players.

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Kearse Levels Up in 2021

As mentioned above, Kearse was more of a utility player before arriving in Dallas, playing over 50% of the special teams snaps in his first four seasons with Minnesota. His move to Detroit first opened up a chance for more contribution on defense, doing enough to impress the Cowboys as he hit free agency.

It turned out to be worth the risk, as PFR shows how Kearse grabbed two interceptions, totaled 10 passes defended and added 67 solo tackles and nine tackles for loss. Basically, Kearse did everything you expect from a safety and did it well.

Besides posting a 77.5 opposing QB rating, Kearse also earned a sack and totaled a career-high eight quarterback pressures. The Cowboys looked to use the 28-year-old safety in a variety of ways, and it brought out the best in the former Clemson Tiger.

NFL Analyst on Kearse, Cowboys’ Cap Situation

Besides the numbers looking good for Kearse, it also appears that Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn wants him back. analyst Gil Brandt addressed various NFL teams’ free agency needs and when talking about the Cowboys, Kearse was a focal point of Dallas’ offseason plans.

“The Cowboys are in for a tight cap situation and have 12 defenders headed for free agency,” Brandt writes. “Including three safeties (Kearse, Malik Hooker and Damontae Kazee). But Kearse stands apart after providing exceptional production on a one-year deal in 2021… Dan Quinn would surely welcome him back with open arms.”

All three safeties had their own contributions, but only Kazee offered the impact that Kearse provided. Hooker did grab an interception and posted a solid 80.3 opposing QB rating, but was a sub more than a starter.

Kazee on the other hand did bring a similarly impressive year, as the 28-year-old caught two interceptions, forced two fumbles and added four passes defended. However, he did give up four touchdowns per PFR and had consistency issues throughout the season.

It will be interesting to see if owner Jerry Jones and the Cowboys do end up bringing back two members of the safety trio. It feels likely that Kearse will come back, but the fates of Kazee and Hooker are far less certain.

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