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Mailbag: Keanu Neal's Impact? Aldon's Status?


How much does the Keanu Neal signing change the secondary? In my opinion, with Donovan Wilson and Keanu Neal and if they draft Patrick Surtain or Caleb Farley with the first pick, this secondary is going to give opposing offenses fits. — Michael Pietros / Narragansett, RI

David: There's no doubt about it: Keanu Neal is the best free agency signing the Cowboys have made in the secondary in a decade. People might mention HaHa Clinton-Dix, but I don't think they're remotely in the same place in their careers. That said, I don't think Neal is a true free safety. There's still time to sign one, and if you pair that with a Top 10 draft pick, that's worth getting excited about.

Rob: Even if Neal isn't a full-time safety in the secondary — there's speculation about him playing some linebacker — he could be an important contributor to the defense. One, he's already played in Dan Quinn's scheme and can step right in with a complete comfort level. Two, he checks a lot of boxes that the Cowboys need. He's physical, he's a big hitter and a good tackler. It's just injuries that have set him back since his Pro Bowl season in 2017.

With the addition of two defensive ends recently signed, do you think that hurts the chances of re-signing Aldon Smith?— David Guest / Midlothian, VA

David: I don't think so. I might be wrong, but I tend to think Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban are more likely to play defensive tackle in this scheme. And if that's the case, then there's plenty of room for Aldon. That's going to depend on the price, but he hasn't been signed yet. That's an encouraging sign for his price point moving forward.

Rob: Yeah, Tarell Basham is probably more of an edge rusher like Aldon. But again, that's a position where you can't ever have enough players who can get to the quarterback. I know the Cowboys have had interest in re-signing Aldon, so I don't think you can rule it out until told otherwise.

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