Dallas Cowboys quietly filled three starting positions in free agency

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s easy to give the Dallas Cowboys, namely Stephen Jones, a hard time for the lack of activity in free agency this year. True to form, our beloved franchise has hung in the shadows, quietly picking off the slower, weaker buffalo and avoiding those virile and sought-after Bodidea at the front of the herd.

As expected, this method of attack has caught more than a little flak from the fanbase. And after nearly all the free agent bargains from 2020 flamed out like discount fireworks, patience has been exhausted.

The process may be flawed, but the rationale behind it is understandable: Dallas is trying to fill as many holes as possible before the draft and the best way to achieve that is by getting the most bang for the buck on each signing. They’ve essentially decided they’d rather fill five spots with “C” level talent than just one spot with “A” talent.

The Dallas Cowboys have actually found a way to snag three starters in free agency this year

While this is not the route me and many others in Cowboys Nation would take if we were in charge, things aren’t really as bad as they seem if we take a closer look.

The Dallas Cowboys have essentially upgraded and added starters to three starting positions in free agency. And done so at a very low cost with even lower risk.

If you’re a losing team like the Dallas Cowboys were in 2020, the point of free agency is to upgrade. And looking at a few of Dallas’ free agent signings, it appears they did just that this offseason.

Dallas Cowboys at Safety

No matter how you slice it, the Dallas Cowboys upgraded their safety ranks during free agency (sadly, that’s not saying much). Xavier Woods is gone and while he was much better than fans give him credit for, his potential was probably capped and the Cowboys needed an attitude adjustment on defense.

The Cowboys decided they’d rather fill five spots with “C” level talent than just one spot with “A” talent.

Replacing him as the primary single high free safety is Damonte Kazee. Kazee didn’t come to Dallas with much fanfare but he has the potential to be the best single high safety Dallas has had in long time.

Kazee, Atlanta’s 2017 fifth round pick, earned his reputation as a ball-hawking deep safety in Dan Quinn’s single high system. While Quinn moved him from FS to SS to slot with varying degrees of success, Kazee was legit good when playing centerfield. That’s the role he’ll take in Dallas.

His last full season as Quinn’s deep safety, he pulled in a league high seven interceptions only allowing a 53.3% completion percentage and 256 total yards when targeted. That’s better than we’ve seen from a starting safety in quite some time here in North Texas.

Joining Kazee is Keanu Neal. Neal, a former first round pick of Atlanta comes with pedigree and a high level of experience in Quinn’s defense. While reports indicate Neal will be playing a significant portion of his snaps at WILL, the overlap between SS and WILL in Quinn’s defense is considerable and he’ll probably be playing some of each.

Regardless of how it all shakes out, Neal is a box player who’s expected to get starter level snaps. He’s going to upgrade against both the run and the pass and should be an asset for tough matchups (see also: TEs).

These are not George Iloka or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix type of guys. Provided they on track in recovery, these are clear upgrades.

Dallas Cowboys at Defensive Tackle

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Brent Urban was low-key the biggest outside free agent signing of the year. Urban comes to Dallas with the third highest graded run-defense score of all NFL defensive tackles last year. He’s a mammoth upgrade inside and help protect second level run-stoppers like Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Neal.

Urban will likely be the starting 1-tech in 2021 and should have an enormous trickle-down effect on the rest of the defense.  Together with Antwaun Woods, Urban will also allow young athletic tackles, Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore, focus more on under tackle and getting penetration.

How much did all of these guys cost the Dallas Cowboys?

A one-year commitment for a little over $6.877 million. That’s not too bad for three starters. Especially not when those three starters are legitimately supposed to be upgrades over the players they are replacing.

Related Story. Free agent Brent Urban could transform defense in Dallas. light

Next. We're severely underestimating Kazee in Dallas. dark

Was the Dallas Cowboys offseason disappointing? Sure, I think we all wanted them to bring in more notable players this year. But their offseason was far from a bust. They likely upgraded three starting positions and that’s no small task.

  • Published on 04/19/2021 at 12:39 PM
  • Last updated at 04/19/2021 at 12:39 PM