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Xavier Woods looking to make Earl Thomas trade talk unnecessary

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Can Xavier Woods become the safety of the future?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

You might have heard some rumors about the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. Ever since Thomas asked the Cowboys to “come and get him” after a game in December, Thomas-to-Dallas trade rumors have been the rage. They peaked just about the time of the 2018 draft, and have been revived again with Thomas refusing to participate in OTAs and mini-camp. Recently, Kevin Sherrington at the Dallas Morning News has written that the logical, and only, conclusion is that the Cowboys finally bring Thomas to Dallas.

That could still happen. Dallas could work a trade during the offseason, but the big hurdle is Thomas’ desire for a re-worked deal that pays him what he’s worth, which is equivalent to one of the best safeties in the game. But at 29-years-old, Thomas is heading to the wrong side of 30, the magical line when franchises become reluctant to hand out big deals. The conundrum is that Thomas’ play hasn’t begun to decline yet, and no one one is quite sure how long he can continue to be elite.

The Cowboys have dedicated themselves to getting younger, and to keeping their salary cap in check, allowing them flexibility in dealing with players in the future. Thomas would violate both those tenets. But do the Cowboys have an alternative?

Xavier Woods thinks they do. The Cowboys sixth-round draft pick from 2017 is a huge Thomas fan, but he’s trying to make the Thomas trade talk superfluous. He wants to be the Cowboys free safety of the future. When the Thomas trade talk is brought up, Woods just ignores it.

“I just block it out,” Woods said. “I’ve learned this is a business at the end of the day. The job is based on yourself. You have to be irreplaceable. It’s all on you.

”I just control what I can control. I’m trying every day to give them a reason not to want anybody else.”

Woods came on strong toward the latter part of the 2017 season. He played roughly half the defensive snaps but spent a lot of time covering in the slot. That shows how good his coverage skills are, but he also spent some time at safety.

New secondary coach Kris Richard likes Woods’ intelligence.

“He’s really smart,” Richard said. “That’s the thing that stands out first and foremost about him. He picks stuff up really quick. He takes coaching points really well. He already has an idea how to simplify things in his mind, and it works for him. He’s fast, he’s bright, he’s got ball skills and he fits the profile.”

Woods has been using Richard to get better, and in a coincidence, it’s Richard’s former pupil, Earl Thomas, who they are using as a model for Woods.

“I pick Coach Richard’s brain about what Earl thinks,” Woods said. “We used to watch film together, me and Coach Richard, and just look and see what Earl brings, what is Earl thinking at this point and time on this play.”

Woods, Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier are the three candidates for serious time at safety now that Byron Jones is moving to corner. Woods was a ball-hawk in college, and his skill-set lends it self to being a center fielder in the Cowboys defensive scheme.

If the Cowboys don’t consummate a trade for Thomas, Woods will get his chance in 2018 to stake his claims as the safety of the future. If he does the things he believes he can, then maybe Dallas won’t even need to sign Thomas in free agency next offseason.

What do you think BTB, should Dallas give Woods the 2018 season to stake his claim, or would you give up draft capital and salary cap flexibility to get Thomas for the next few years?