Today we continue our 2023 Dallas Cowboys free agency profile series. Our next profile features our second defensive player of the series, safety Donovan Willson.
2022 Stats: 17G, 1 INT, 5.0 Sacks, 101 Total Tackles, 77 Solo, 9 QB Hits, 7 TFL, 2 FF, 2 PD
Year Review: In a contract year, Cowboys’ safety Donovan Wilson had an excellent 2022 campaign. The 27-year-old was healthy enough to play a full season for the first time in his career, and it paid off with some improved production on the field.
Wilson recorded the most total tackles (101), sacks (5.0), TFL (7), and QB Hits (9) of his career and was one of the more impactful players on Dallas’ defense.
My unsung hero last night was Donovan Wilson.— (Foots The King) (@FootsDaKing) January 17, 2023
He does things that won’t show up on the stat sheet.
But these two hits set the tone…
You catch the ball In the secondary Dono tryna take your Helmet off. pic.twitter.com/iuoXKk2NsV
Wilson was Dan Quinn’s secret weapon on defense, and his ability to play in the box and deliver big hits ended up being a critical component of Dallas’ defense in 2022. The former sixth-round pick set himself up for a nice payday on the open market this spring.
Free Agency Outlook: In a perfect world the Cowboys would bring Wilson back on a multi-year deal and run back their three-headed-monster at the safety position next season. Unfortunately, things aren’t that easy.
Dallas is currently about $7M over the cap for the 2023 season. While they will certainly make some moves (restructures/cuts) to get well under the cap, they may not have enough space to justify bringing back their third safety in Wilson.
Pro Football Focus projects Wilson to earn a two-year, $11.5M deal in free agency.
While he did play an important role in Dallas’ defense last season, the Cowboys do still have starting safeties Malik Hooker and Jayron Kearse under contract for the 2023 season.
On the flip side, both Hooker and Kearse are set to become free agents after next season, so Dallas could see this as an opportunity to lock Wilson up long-term and pair him with whatever safety they attempt to bring back after this upcoming year.
Final Verdict: Dan Quinn would probably love to have Donovan Wilson back in the fold next season. As nice as it would be for Quinn and the defense, the Cowboys just have too many holes to fill to justify bringing him back for $6-7M a year.
This is Wilson’s chance to hit it big on the open market and he likely will not pass up that chance to take a hometown discount and return to Dallas.
Prediction: Wilson signs a three-year deal elsewhere in free agency.