Back & Forth: Cowboys Addressed Safety, But Done?


FRISCO, Texas - With about a month into free agency, yet still more than two weeks before the draft, this is time where NFL teams usually hit the pause button for a moment.

Of course, the door isn't closed to add veterans and the draft process is well underway with meetings, interviews and we've even seen some league-wide trades to move around in the draft.

But for the most part, the dust has settled for now, knowing it will pick up significantly on April 28, the start of the draft.

So let's look back at each position, with a free-agent recap, and look ahead to see if there's more left to do.

Today, we'll start with the safety position.

What Happened:

  • One of the first moves of free agency was somewhat overshadowed because of the Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory news that broke on the first week. But the team re-signed Malik Hooker to a 2-year, $8 million contract. Hooker had a rather quiet first season with the Cowboys as he returned from a torn Achilles injury he sustained the year before in Indianapolis. He didn't play as much as both Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse, but as the season went along, Hooker's reps increased. The Cowboys are hopeful he can return to form that made him a first-round pick and a play-making safety on the back end.
  • The Cowboys took a little longer than Kearse might've hoped, but they eventually signed him to a two-year deal worth $10 million. Kearse led the Cowboys in tackles last season with 92. However, when Cowboys VP Stephen Jones was asked about linebacker depth, he said Kearse was viewed more as a linebacker, leaving the door open for possible more moves to be made at safety.
  • As for Kazee, he remains unsigned. It doesn't appear as if the Cowboys will bring him back as they already have plans to give his No. 18 to another veteran.

What's Next:

Let's just get this out of the way now – the Cowboys have no interest in signing veteran Tyrann Mathieu, who remains one of the bigger names unsigned on the free-agent market.

Obviously, money is a big factor as the Cowboys have remained modest with their signings. But they also made it clear they wanted Hooker back and he'll likely be the Week 1 starter at free safety. Kearse was locked up for two years as well, and will be listed as strong safety.

But they'll need more players back there, especially when Kearse slides down closer to the line of scrimmage.

So where does Donovan Wilson fit in? Last year, he made little to no impact as he dealt with two different injuries that sidelined him for half the year.

But when healthy, Wilson has proven to be a playmaker, with both sacks and interceptions. The Cowboys will need his experience to come through next year.

And then there's 2021 rookie Israel Mukuamu, who didn't play much at all, spending most of the year as a game-day inactive.

He's got the length, the coverage skills as a converted corner, now he just needs the strength and experience.

Feeling A Draft?

With that on the roster, safety could theoretically go untouched in the draft. It's not a major need. But then again, Wilson has one year left on his contract and both Hooker and Kearse signed two-year deals.

So if the grade fits, taking a safety in the middle of the draft could make sense as well.

The Cowboys have not drafted a safety in the first two rounds since 2002 when they took Roy Williams (eighth overall). Since then, the third round is the highest they've taken a safety, and J.J. Wilcox (2013) is the only player taken that high in the last 20 years.

Needless to say, the Cowboys don't seem to put a high priority on the position, especially early in the draft. This year, they reportedly brought in one safety in their 30 visits, although not a player expected to be drafted in the first couple of rounds.

Related Content