While free agency officially begins in March, roster turnover isn't too far away. The Cowboys will indeed add and presumably release players, along with letting some go without a new contract.
However, the majority of the 2018 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.
Today, we'll continue the series with safety Xavier Woods.
What's Been Good: For what he had to endure for all of the offseason and then training camp and then getting hurt in the preseason that carried over into the regular season, Woods did a remarkable job in 2018. Not only did he play 14 games, but he played well. The Cowboys were rumored to be in the Earl Thomas market all last year, which likely would've meant Woods would've lost his starting job. He didn't let that bother him as he returned from injury in Week 3 and finished sixth on the team with 67 tackles, and third on the team with nine pass deflections.
What's Been Bad: While Woods indeed played well, it hasn't stopped the talk to get a veteran safety. In fact, Jerry Jones adamantly said "yes" when asked this week about acquiring outside help, which we still all assume could be in the form of Thomas, who is expected to be a free agent. That doesn't mean Woods has done anything bad. In fact, it has been said that Woods and perhaps Thomas could start alongside each other and Jeff Heath would move down to a nickel safety/special teams role. Obviously, all of that is up in the air at this point. Woods is a player the Cowboys like and he isn't going anywhere.
2018 Highlight: His five-day turnaround from the Atlanta game to the Thanksgiving Day win over Washington was quite a week for Woods. He had 10 tackles against the Falcons to help the Cowboys secure a huge road win, only to be followed up by seven tackles, three pass deflections and an interception in the Cowboys' win over the Redskins.
What's Next: For Woods, he's going to be in the mix at safety for sure. That part is a given. What is role will be will have to be determined over the next month, depending on free agency. But let's not forget, he is 23 years old, he's a playmaking safety that counts less than $700,000 on the salary cap. They can go sign Thomas or even Landon Collins and there still would be a big role for a player like Woods.
The Cowboys have made it clear they are looking to upgrade the safety position. But even with all of the outside speculation, there will be a role for Xavier Woods, who is coming off a productive season.
Bryan's Bottom Line: Nobody is more than happy to see the development of Xavier Woods than the crew of The Draft Show. Woods was a favorite of the group and when he was selected in the 6th round to a man we thought it was an absolute steal by the front office. Next to Jaylon Smith, there was not a defensive player that made a bigger jump in progress from year one to year two. In his first season, I had my concerns that Woods might have been a liability not only in coverage but as a tackler as well but he was able to overcoming those shortcomings and play with impressive intensity. Not only did he cleanup his coverage issues, he became a violent hitter. In talking to opponents during the season they also took notice of how well he was playing while giving the Cowboys credit for his selection. I will be interested to see if the front office continues to pair him with Jeff Heath or do they add a veteran player like Earl Thomas? They could also feel good enough about his development to this point that they draft a rookie for that spot knowing Woods is dependable and will continue to grow.