FRISCO, Texas - If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. That’s a phrase that can be used often in any circumstance, but especially in football, where the NFL is driven by parity every season.
The Cowboys were able to make a run and get into the playoffs, winning the NFC East for the third time in five seasons. But even owner/GM Jerry Jones has made it clear, his team needs to keep improving and take its success to the next level.
So as we head into the 2019 offseason, let’s look at each position on the team, and just what needs to transpire so the Cowboys can indeed, take that next step.
Today, we’ll break down the safety position.
His Next Step?
People love the game of football because of its physicality, and that’s never going to change. So every now and then, safety Xavier Woods probably got you up out of your seat because he lays the wood at the most opportunistic of times. A sixth-rounder from the 2017 draft, Woods is someone who continues to develop before our eyes, and he’s still a bargain for the cap, making just $645,000 in 2019. He played in 14 games this past season, finishing with 39 tackles and one forced fumble. There has been incredible emphasis on the need for takeaways with this defense, Woods getting two of his own in 2018. His next step needs to be, simply, more of that. Be a playmaker. Steal the show. Too many times he’s an under the radar guy, and this defense is in the market for a show-stopping safety. Dallas was tied for 26th in interceptions in 2018, something that has to change if they want to be postseason contenders.
Their Next Step?
With Byron Jones moving to the cornerback position, the small group of safeties became even thinner. They’ve got to find some depth at this position; Xavier Woods was injured early in the 2018 season, and one injury caused somewhat of a panic. The position was exposed as one of the weaker groups, not because of talent, but because of lack of star power. It’s not in their control necessarily, but a solid next step would be for the front office to add some bodies to this group, whether it be in the draft or free agency. More on that in a moment.
Decisions to Make?
There aren’t really any big decisions looming on the inside of the facility regarding the position. Jeff Heath, who became a first-time father in February, has been with the Cowboys since the 2013 season. And frankly, has been asked to do a lot – including being this team’s backup kicker. 2018 was his career best season, finishing with 63 tackles and six tackles for loss, but there still seems to be room for more.
Of course they’re looking at outside help in free agency – the question is, how much are they willing to spend? Jerry Jones confirmed earlier this week that there will indeed be conversations in free agency surrounding the safety position. Big names are Earl Thomas, and now recently Landon Collins. It’s been some time since the Cowboys dropped big money in free agency (2012, cornerback Brandon Carr signed in Dallas for $50.1 million), and now could be the time for Earl Thomas, who is currently training and living in Texas. Maybe living year-round, long term in Texas is a priority for him. The problem they’re running into: the Cowboys also have DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones, and Amari Cooper waiting on new deals, as well. Buckle up for another dramatic offseason regarding the safety situation.