Cowboys Nation would love to see Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas wearing the star next season. And why not? The All-Pro safety has been a force in this league for most of his career. With his recent public displays of interest in joining the Cowboys, it has got a lot of fans wanting Jerry Jones to make it happen.
While it would be fabulous to have Thomas playing for Dallas, there are a lot of reasons that move isn’t feasible. First, Seattle isn’t going to just give him away. To pull him away from the Seahawks, it would require the Cowboys to give up a draft resource. The front office doesn’t like to give up draft capital. Not only that, but Thomas comes with a $8.5 million price to cover his salary. Thomas would also be a free agent after the 2018 season so the team would need to go into this with the intention of signing him long-term. And that won’t come cheap. Finally, Thomas plays free safety. The Cowboys already have a handful of free safety options. What they really need is a strong safety.
Going after a Seahawks safety might be a good idea, but it’s not the player we all think. Instead of investing so much in Thomas, the team can target backup safety Bradley McDougald.
McDougald started his career with of with the Kansas City Chiefs, signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He was cut and then placed on the Chiefs practice squad before being poached by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He would stay with the Bucs for his first four years in the league and starting all but one game for them during his last two seasons with the team. During that time, he put up back-to-back seasons with 87+ tackles. Cowboys fans may remember him for this game-ending interception he made while covering Dez Bryant in 2015.
McDougald signed with the Seahawks last season to give them depth behind Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. That depth came in handy as the team lost strong safety Chancellor for seven games. McDougald filled in nicely for them, recording 67 tackles. He was very efficient against the run.
Most Run Stops among Safeties from weeks 10-17— Louie Benjamin (@PFF_Louie) January 2, 2018
Bradley McDougald - 16
Jamal Adams - 15
Reshad Jones - 14
McDougald is a perfect example of what the Cowboys look for in a free agent. He’s only 27 years old. He possesses the flexibility to play both the free and strong safety positions. And he’s a guy who has been stuck behind better players who is good enough to deserve a starting position. While he’s not going to be anything special in this league, he won’t be a liability either. The Cowboys can use a player like this to shore up the strong safety position until they can find a more talented player in the draft.
Last season, the team only invested $855,000 in free agent safety Robert Blanton and that ended up being a waste. The team could throw a little more money at McDougald and land a solid player to add to their secondary. Seattle would love to have him back, but with two talented safeties already on the roster, he’s going to be worth more to other teams and it shouldn’t be hard to pull him away from them. A deal worth $3 to $4 million annually should be enough to get it done. McDougald’s chance to earn a starting spot is far more likely competing against Jeff Heath than it is against Chancellor.
While bigger names like Lamarcus Joyner, Morgan Burnett, Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid, and Tre Boston will command high dollars, waiting for a player like McDougald is the way to go. Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard is already familiar with what McDougald brings to the team. Here is what Richard had to say when McDougald was being asked to fill in as a starter in the middle of last season:
On how comfortable he feels with Bradley McDougald potentially starting this weekend in place of Earl Thomas who is dealing with a leg injury:
“Extremely confident. He’s been a starter in this league, he has starter ability, he’s a multi-talented guy who can do plenty of things out there on the field, so we have extreme confidence.”
McDougald fits the type of free agent signings the Cowboys like to make. Do you think he would be a good fit for this team? If your biggest free agent acquisition from another team was going to be in the $4 million range, what position do you think the Cowboys should target?