The Dallas Cowboys needed to address the defense this offseason. That was mandatory after last year’s disastrous performance from that side of the ball. Hiring Dan Quinn to replace Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator was the first step in improving the unit.
Dallas has since added a handful of defenders in free agency. The Cowboys have inked defensive tackles Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins, while also adding EDGE Tarell Basham. None of those players are game-changers, but Dallas is hoping that these additions improve the talent level on the roster.
Identifying defensive backs to add to the team is also a must for the Cowboys. Reports surfaced on Friday afternoon that the Cowboys have serious interest in safeties Keanu Neal, Malik Hooker, and Damontae Kazee. Neal and Kazee both played for Quinn in Atlanta, while Hooker is a 2017 first-round draft pick.
COWBOYS SIGN NEAL TO DEAL
Dallas will be signing at least one of those three aforementioned players. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero broke the news that Neal will be signing a one-year deal with the Cowboys.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 20, 2021
The deal is worth $5 million for the 2021 season. Neal reportedly opted to sign with the Cowboys over heavy interest from the New York Jets. The Dan Quinn connection — and the overall state of the Jets in general — likely played a big role in that decision.
Neal is a former Pro Bowl safety that has dealt with injuries over the past few seasons. The 25-year-old was a first-round pick in the same draft that produced Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. When healthy, he was a big-time player in Quinn’s scheme.
Some reports have suggested that the Cowboys will be playing Neal at the will linebacker position. However, other reports have refuted that — saying that Neal will play strong safety in Dallas. Regardless, Neal is a must-needed add to a defense lacking overall talent and playmakers.
The Cowboys may not be done adding defenders, as the team is set to meet with Hooker this upcoming week. Dallas isn’t adding top of the market players, but the Cowboys still appear to be doing their due-diligence in free agency.
Featured image via Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports