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Could Free Agent S Jeff Heath Return to Cowboys in a Lesser Role?

One of the Dallas Cowboys’ many free agents in 2020 is Safety Jeff Heath, who has been a full-time starter since 2017 and a backup for four seasons before that. While Dallas is expected to look for an upgrade in the starting lineup, could Heath still return to the Cowboys in a lesser role?

Heath, who turns 29 in May, has been a nice value player since going undrafted in 2013. He’s been able to play both the free and strong safety positions, has been one of the better special teams performers, and has had a knack for being on of the better playmakers on defense during his run.

The problem with Jeff isn’t less the lack of big plays but rather the fundamentals. He is too often in the wrong place on coverage or misses tackles in the open field. For any of the turnovers or crucial stops he’s made through the years, there are just as many that he’s been given up to opponents.

Nobody expects the Cowboys to extend Heath’s contract in 2020 to remain in a starting role. They will likely look to the draft or free agency to find a better partner for Xavier Woods in the defensive backfield.

However, given Heath’s experience, versatility, and special teams prowess, could Dallas look to keep him as a backup?

The kind of contract needed to retain Jeff in a reserve role wouldn’t be too different from the deal that just expired. Heath was averaging a little less than $2 million per season the last four years; a perfectly fine amount for a quality backup and special teams leader.

It is also doubtful that there would be much competition for Heath in the 2020 free agency market. Unless a former coach put in a good word, such as Rod Marinelli who’s now with the Oakland Raiders, Jeff could struggle to find a landing spot.

Granted, the coaching change in Dallas will also affect Jeff’s chances of returning. With the entire defensive and even special teams coaching staff gone other than Leon Lett, who isn’t involved with the secondary, nobody is really around to pound the table for Heath.

Bottom line; nobody will be shocked if the Cowboys don’t make an effort to re-sign Jeff Heath. He has been adequate for a few years and arguably a bargain for his low salary, but not a guy who is going to help take your team to the next level as a starter.

However, if the team still values what he can bring as a backup and special teamer, I could easily see Heath getting a new contract with the Cowboys.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. I wouldn’t mind him coming back as long as he’s just a special teams player!! That’s the only thing he was really good at!! As far as having him as a backup, I think I’d rather see what Donovan Wilson has!! He mite be good enough to start, but if he’s not I’d still have him as a backup over Heath!! Heath is a special teams player and that’s about it!! But that’s just my opinion!!

  2. You guys need to let it go. This is one of the great special teams guys, but you cannot MAKE him more than he is. He is an below average to average guy who worked his way up from special teams maven. If you want this team in another Super Bowl, you have to let this go. The goat ( lmao) needs to go…or stay as a special teams guy. And no matter how rudely or unjustly you respond, Donovan Wilson is a better option, and he will be replaced.

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