FRISCO, Texas – Chalk Jayron Kearse up as a supporter of the Cowboys' offseason maneuvering to this point.
Obviously, with free agency still on the horizon, no one in the NFL has been able to do much. But at the very least, the Cowboys' breakout star from 2021 is pleased to see that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be back in 2022.
"Getting Quinn back was a huge win, and it was one that was much needed, just to try your best to keep this group together," Kearse told 105.3 FM The Fan on Tuesday. "Because the strides we've made in Year 1, it can give us a lot of upside going into Year 2 with guys being together, guys having camaraderie with each other. That's the No. 1 win so far this offseason."
It's tempting to try to read into that comment. After all, re-signing Kearse would be a big step toward keeping last year's defense intact. Along with Randy Gregory, Kearse is one of the most crucial defensive free agents on this roster.
He also played 88.1% of the Cowboys' snaps, third only to cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown. Speaking on Tuesday, Kearse said that workload was the reason he was able to easily put up the best effort of his career, breaking out to the tune of 101 tackles, two interceptions, nine tackles for loss and a sack.
Kearse's 15 starts in Dallas were more than he managed in the other five years of his career, combined.
"If you turn the tape on, with the opportunities I did have, I played good football," he said. "But it was never a week in, week out thing where it was constantly Jayron Kearse on the field. It was just the fact that I was able to get that opportunity every week."
With Quinn back in the fold, it'll be interesting to see how the Cowboys prioritize Kearse. In addition to playing at a high level all season, Kearse also filled a leadership role as a bit of a tone setter.
As usual, it'll come down to money. The Cowboys have work to do just to free up some salary cap space, let alone bring back their free agents. But it sure would be fun to keep such a promising group intact.