The Dallas Cowboys had a very good draft according to most, including us here at BTB. But there was one thing they failed to do. They did not take a safety. The position is thin, with only Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier, and Jeff Heath as reliable candidates for the fall roster. That means that they need to add some more talent, and it looks like they will have to dive back into free agency to do that.
The team tried to address that in the well-reported flirtation with Earl Thomas of the Seattle Seahawks, but the asking price from the team and the contract demands of Thomas kept that from ever happening. Of course, Dallas could go back and offer a future pick . . . nah, let’s not go there, at least for now.
So free agency is the likely path. And with the safety market having been markedly slow so far this year, there are some pretty good options available. But there will be no hurry for a simple reason.
If DAL is gonna make a FA move at either S or NT, it probably won’t come until after May 12.— #OptimisticJoey (@JoeyIckes) April 29, 2018
That’s the day FAs no-longer impact the Comp pick formula
The Cowboys are not going to have the large haul of compensatory picks next year that they used in this draft, but they are going to want to hang onto the one they should get.
Right now they're in line for a 4th-round comp pick (Hitchens) next year, which is why they'll likely wait until May 12th before signing any further notable free agency moves.— One Cool Customer (@OCC44) April 29, 2018
So with some time to look for another safety or two, here is a look at the best ones out there. (They are listed in the order ranked at Rotoworld.) Age is noted for each player, because that’s kind of important.
Kenny Vaccaro (27)
Vaccaro has been seen as a top name for Dallas since the beginning of free agency. He is one of the younger ones on the market, but also has injury concerns. Here is a writeup from Sportsday.
Vaccaro just completed his fifth season with the Saints, where he was a starter ever since New Orleans drafted him in the first round. He has eight career interceptions. The Cowboys’ top four safeties on their roster last season have a combined 10 career interceptions.
Vaccaro, 27, has 283 tackles, 7½ sacks and 30 pass breakups in his five seasons. His season ended early for New Orleans in December. He had a torn groin muscle and a hurt wrist and had surgery on both injuries in late December.
Eric Reid (26)
Another player still in the prime of his career, Reid seems a good choice. The national anthem protest controversy is apparently still following him, but there is no denying his talent. Here is an excerpt from a free agency scouting report on Reid.
Never one to shy from contact, Reid is a physical player that is effective throwing two-hand jams in catch man against backs and tight ends. He takes good angles into coverage and has excellent quickness, hip fluidity, and route anticipation to play basketball with athletic backs in space.
He drops to his spot quickly in zone and plays with his eyes to the quarterback. He recognizes routes in front of him well and plants and drives to blow up underneath routes. Reid can locate the ball from press or off and can close and get a free hand in to deflect the catch. He’s recorded 10 career interceptions.
Tre Boston (25)
Boston is the youngest of the crop. He also has a social activism past, and he also reportedly has some high salary demands after ending last season on IR. Boston has some quality stats over the last few years and is perplexed by the very soft free agent market for safeties in 2018. He cites the low deals for Tyrann Mathieu and Morgan Burnett and what he’s been hearing on the market.
“Just like a few of the other guys, we’re just not hearing anything near what we want to hear or even close,” Boston told co-host Ed McCaffrey and me Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We’re closer to veteran minimum than we are to the $7-, $8-, $9-million players we wanted to be two months ago or even eight months ago.”
The Sporting News reported this recently:
One NFL team executive told Sporting News the overall lack of top-end speed among free-agent safeties is one of the contributing factors to a repressed market.
”It’s a marginal group,” the executive said. “You really don’t have one cover safety in the group. You have some decent box types like Vaccaro and Reid, but it’s primarily backup types left.”
Those are the top three, but there are many others. However, most of them are 30 or older, which is itself a bit of a concern. The best of the rest:
Mike Mitchell (30)
Quintin Demps (32)
Tyvon Branch (32)
Ron Parker (30)
Corey Graham (32)
Darius Butler (32)
T.J. Ward (31)
Further complicating things for the Cowboys is that they prefer someone who can fill the free safety role rather than a box safety.
But the need for a veteran to come in and strengthen the position is real. Dallas will be looking hard at these and perhaps others. And they are not going to want to pay a lot of money, despite having some cap room to work with now (and even more next year).
So who would you like to see them try to land?