Jayron Kearse might just be the most disrespected man in the NFL. First, he rated as one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs of the 2021 season. Second, after marginal interest around the league he somewhat begrudgingly accepted a 2-year/$10 million deal to stay with the Dallas Cowboys. Now third, he finds himself completely off ESPN’s list of the top-23 NFL safeties.
After a brilliant breakout season in 2021, you’d think the Dallas Cowboys safety would finally be getting the love he deserves. But the disrespect just continues.
Jayron Kearse is one of the Dallas Cowboys biggest defensive weapons, yet the league fails to recognize him for his efforts.
By all accounts, Jayron Kearse had an All-Star season with the Dallas Cowboys last season. Playing in Dan Quinn’s SAF/LB hybrid role, Kearse was a menace in the box. He filled gaps, made plays in the backfield, and covered from the slot. As I described him after the season, he was Dan Quinn’s “Master Key” on defense.
Kearse has truly been a blessing for the Dallas Cowboys
But the Pro Bowl is a popularity contest, and players rarely get the honor in their breakout season. If you’re not highly drafted player, it usually takes multiple years of continued success to make up for that lack of name recognition.
When free agency came and Jayron hit the open market, it became more than just an issue with fan recognition. Teams weren’t all that interested in him either. After a little time testing the free agent waters, Kearse re-signed with Dallas to a modest 2-year deal for an amount lower than many imagined.
Here in the weeks before training camp, Kearse received his third dose of disrespect when executives, coaches, and players got together to rank the NFL’s top safeties and left his name off the list altogether.
It’s a curious situation that’s difficult to explain. It’s not like Cowboys Nation is being overly biased in their support of the 28-year-old vet. Most fans, myself included, didn’t think he was anything special when the Dallas Cowboys first signed him in the 2021 offseason. It was his stellar play last season that endeared him to Cowboys Nation. It was shockingly good and a signing I’m happy to be wrong about.
Pro Football Focus even called him the Dallas Cowboys most improved player last season, pointing out he was fifth in the NFL in defensive stops, third in pressures, and first in pass-breakups (amongst safeties).
Why can’t the rest of the NFL see that?
Kearse has truly been a blessing for the Dallas Cowboys (pun unabashedly intended). He’s been the key to Quinn’s Big Nickel defense and one of the most versatile and reliable players on the team.
Did I mention he made 101 tackles and only missed four all year?
In all likelihood it’s the hybrid role he plays that’s hurting him in the eyes of the NFL. Because if anything, he’s more linebacker in Quinn’s system than traditional safety. So it’s really the same thing that makes him invaluable to the Cowboys that’s what’s hurting his status around the NFL.
The NFL has at least two more years to figure it out. All because they failed to realize his value last season, he came back to Dallas for cheap and the Cowboys get to reap the benefits.