With NFL free agency now under way, Cowboys Nation is beginning to get quite antsy with the Dallas’ inactivity through the first few days.
Combine that with the fan base’s anxiety with now having missed out on all three of the top safeties on the market being Earl Thomas (Ravens), Eric Weddle (Rams) and Landon Collins’ (Washington). The one glaring consensus hole/need on the Dallas defense is at the safety position. All being considered in the context though that they get a deal done with All-Pro defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.
Fear not though folks, there is still a plethora of other – more realistic – safety options on the open market that the Cowboys could sign to pair with young Xavier Woods as Jeff Heath continues to miss tackles against the run.
Here’s a couple viable options for a safety through free agency for Dallas:
Cyprien missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL, so offering him a deal would be in the high-risk high-reward category. With the Cowboys need being more so for a strong safety, rather than a free safety (for all you Earl Thomas enthusiasts), Cyprien would fit their bill with size and athleticism coming in at 6-foot, 223 pounds.
Overall, Cyprien has the needed ability to cover tight ends from the slot and the physicality necessary to limit separation from them with said size and athleticism. Further in coverage, Cyprien has displayed over his five seasons that he can too play effectively in a zone scheme.
His best strength is against the run though, which is what the Cowboys would be looking to improve where Heath lacks. Cyprien willingly takes on blocks, and looks for contact in the middle of the field and in the box. He’d provide short-area explosiveness, and would be a solid pursuit defender with viable speed.
Again, the concern with the ACL recovery is imminent when it comes to Cyprien, but would also be a main reason the Cowboys could take a chance on him with a cheap deal. He’s still only 28, giving him the chance to come back with his full explosiveness and athleticism. He’s thrived in similar defensive schemes like Dallas’ and would challenge for and likely secure the SS starting job from Heath in camp. It would further give Heath the opportunity to focus on where he plays best: special teams.
I like to call Iloka archetype. The archetype that you’d build an ideal strong safety like in terms of strength, size and physicality listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Cam Chancellor ring a bell?
Iloka spent the 2018 with the Minnesota Vikings after becoming a cap causality with the Cincinnati Bengals who drafted him in 2012. Though he had his good moments, Iloka didn’t perform well or fit well in Mike Zimmer’s system which was generally a lot of cover 2 and cover 4.
Thankfully, the Cowboys aren’t running Monte Kiffin’s Tampa two anymore. Long story short, like Cyprien, Iloka would likely feel much more at home playing in Dallas’ now Cover 1 and Cover 3 scheme where he could lurk up in and around the box as a strong safety. With great instincts and discipline against the run combined with a hard-hitting safety mentality, it seems like a match made in heaven for the Cowboys. Hence why I wanted them to jump all over him when the Bengals let him go last year.
Against the pass, Iloka is particularly strong against short and intermediate routes. His size and strength, too, make him far more effective in coverage against tight ends rather than quick slot receivers. We know there’s a pretty good one Dallas has to deal with at least twice a year in Philly.
Iloka’s length, I find, gives receivers the most trouble at the catch point. Adding this in the form of a safety to an already loaded, Dallas defense would be huge. Especially considering all the tight windows in red zone, where they were already clamps last season. Attack or be attacked.
Like Cyprien, Iloka would give the Cowboys an upgrade over Heath without breaking the bank. He’d also add another weapon on the defense with his length in those tight windows. Something that Heath and Woods don’t bring to the table.
Plus, Kris Richard is known for developing long, hard hitting defensive back. Just Youtube “Legion of Boom.” Under Richard, it could be an opportunity for Iloka to play his best football yet.
If this hit gets routinely flagged, blitzing the QB just got less fun.
Twitter told y’all the top tier safeties wouldn’t break the bank because there were so many mid- and lower-level guys on the market… and you believed it.
That’s on you if you’re upset about Earl Thomas and/or Landon Collins.
Also, for those who had you believing an elite safety is somehow more important than an elite pass rush, remember this: It’s called the SECONDARY for a reason. That’s coming from a safety position enthusiast who chose and played that position as a child.
Still with all of that being said, pay Tank.
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