Safety Kavon Frazier played his first four years in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys after being drafted in the sixth round in 2016, in the same draft as Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. He is currently a free agent hoping to get a new deal. He recently appeared with George Iloka, who was briefly part of the preseason roster with Frazier in 2019, and Iloka’s co-host Kendal Blackshear on “The Gym Bag Podcast.” He had some insights into the impact of the pandemic on his situation, his time with the Cowboys, the new CBA, and more.
If you want to hear the full podcast, here is how:
NFL FREE AGENT KAVON FRAZIER OF DALLAS COWBOYS JOINS US— George Iloka (@George_iloka) April 6, 2020
We discuss how the coronavirus has impacted his free agency, being a #GirlDad, the 2019 Cowboy’s season, how he voted in the new CBA, his Frazier Cares Foundation and much MORE‼️
It’s a good listen for those who have an hour to kill (and so many do now) with great stuff about his personal life and his charitable foundation. But for those who want to get to the key information about his prospects to return to the field and some insider details about America’s Team and what he thinks went wrong, here are some key highlights for you. The opinions here are my best attempt at conveying what came across in the interview, and not meant to endorse the views expressed. They do come from someone who was in the locker room and on the field.
Free agency and the pandemic
Frazier is one of the players that have been directly affected by the restrictions of the NFL’s response. He missed most of 2019 because of a shoulder injury. He really prefers returning to the Cowboys, but also said he and his agent heard there was interest from other teams at the Combine.
But Frazier has been unable to get medically cleared, and everything is in limbo for him. He has to wait for things to loosen up so he can see doctors for a physical, a situation he shares with others around the league. He hopes that something will develop after the draft when teams have a better idea of what they still need.
Stuck on special teams
In Dallas, he was seen primarily as a special teams ace. That is a common path to a career for late-round picks like himself. But he also had some definite opinions about how he felt he was pigeonholed in that role by the coaching staff.
His second year was disappointing, because he felt he would get more of an opportunity when Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox departed in free agency. That did not transpire as he was relegated again to special teams and backup safety work. The arrival of Kris Richard didn’t change things, and he said that shortly after his first meeting with Richard, he was told he would not be a starter. He never felt he got a real shot at competing, something that Iloka sympathized with due to being cut in 2019 with very little chance to prove himself in training camp.
The ST meltdown in 2019
When he was injured and put on IR last year, Frazier said he started listening to podcasts and media coverage for the first time since becoming a pro. He said he definitely noticed the reports of how badly the Dallas special teams were performing. What he thought was missing from those discussions, for the most part, was how things really went downhill when he wasn’t there any more. It may have been a bit self-serving. But it also is kinda accurate.
What else went wrong last season
The question came up on whether the “win or bust” reporting last year was a factor in how the Cowboys were so disappointing, and he clearly thinks it was. In particular, he said that it caused the coaches to “put different stuff in the players’ heads” that didn’t help. In his opinion, the players still put out the same effort, but the coaches were clearly feeling the pressure of the incessant drumbeat of “Will Jason Garrett get fired?” that we all saw. (Disclaimer: I was certainly part of that.) Frazier expressed a sincere belief in Garrett as a coach and a human being, and has nothing but admiration for how the coach stood up to the barrage of questions from the media. He still has no doubt that the pressure negatively affected how the entire staff did their jobs.
The new CBA
When asked, he stated he voted yes on the new CBA. He said his reason was that it is a much better deal for down-roster players, particularly UDFAs, and practice squad players. A lockout would have been devastating financially for them. Although his four years, even on a late-round rookie deal, made him able to weather such a storm, he felt compelled to vote in favor of the new deal because of how many it would eventually help. He also believes the new CBA is a significant improvement over the last one. But there is still a lot of room for improvement, because that previous deal was so badly slanted against the players.
The lack of Pro Days
While the COVID-19 restrictions impacted him directly, he also discussed the way it will negatively affect prospects this year. In addition to those who had bad Combine performances or, as he did, had to sit out the drills because of injury, it is particularly devastating for players who did not get a Combine invite. Many of them, including a lot of small school prospects, are likely to miss out entirely on a chance at the NFL as a result. He believes he would never have been drafted if he had not had the opportunity at his own Pro Day to show what he was capable of doing after some poor pre-draft reports.
When asked if Dak Prescott should take some kind of hometown discount in a new contract, Frazier’s response was an emphatic “Hell, nah!” Having been a rookie alongside Prescott, he has a real belief in the quarterback. He said that one thing people outside the team don’t realize is how Prescott “had that dog in him” from the first day. Frazier has zero doubts about Prescott being the right quarterback for the future of the Cowboys.
More on Richard
Iloka circled back to get more details on Richard, who was of course coaching during his own brief tenure in Dallas. In particular, the subject of Richard’s reputation as something of a “DB whisperer” during his time with the Legion of Boom in Seattle was brought up. Frazier said it didn’t materialize that he could see. He said Richard started off strong when he arrived in 2018, but things declined quickly. The biggest problem he believed was how Richard was so very detail focused. He introduced a lot of new tweaks and reads that had to be done right or things broke down. There didn’t seem to be enough teaching or perhaps time to do so for it to come together. Frazier also brought up how Richard relied almost exclusively on Cover 3 and man, when in his first two years the defense had also used a lot of Cover 2 and 4. For those who remember that far back, it was reminiscent of how the very complicated Rob Ryan defense keep coming apart back when he was the DC. Although he wasn’t as sure about this, he also thought that Richard may have had his hand forced in some ways by Garrett or even the ownership in some decisions.
Frazier is certain that just-retired center Travis Frederick deserves to wind up in the Hall of Fame. In addition to his much-awarded play on the field, his tremendous leadership there and in the locker room really impressed Frazier. Add in his similarly outstanding off-the-field work, which seemed to have been one of the inspirations for Frazier’s own charitable endeavors, and Frederick is the complete package for a bust in Canton. As Frazier put it, he is a legend.
Can the Cowboys be a contender?
From the perspective of the talent on the roster, Frazier firmly believes so, especially if they do well in the draft. He is a fan of the free agency signings, particularly the defensive linemen and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Frazier also saw the talent during all four of his years for the team to have made deep playoff runs. Prescott was again discussed as the real engine of the team. Frazier praised his ability to rebound from a mistake, and said that in four years he never saw him “shook.” There was an implication that the failings originated with the coaching staff.
Standing up for Amari
Many of us are mystified by the criticism of Amari Cooper, and Frazier is, too. He lined up against him in practice, after all, and said he is one of the elite route runners in the league. Frazier described him as almost impossible to cover, especially out of the slot, and said he is at least top two league wide in getting separation.
Those are the main points I gleaned. Any errors in reporting them are mine.
As mentioned, Frazier also has founded Frazier Cares, a non-profit to help children and their parents. From the website:
Frazier Cares is a non-profit organization that provides a positive influence to children through events and community programs such as mentorship and summer football camps. Frazier Cares believes in assisting youth in reaching their full potential both on and off the field, so they may become future leaders and make positive contributions to society. Frazier Cares is also dedicated to providing support to families living with Multiple Sclerosis.
Here’s hoping he is able to continue his career, hopefully with the Cowboys. Wherever he winds up, we all should wish only the best for him.