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Cowboys DT Antwaun Woods Dealing w/ Multiple Frustrations in 2020

Offseason business in the NFL is always good for some players and bad for others. Defensive Tackle Antwaun Woods finds himself on the bad side of circumstances in 2020, and you have to wonder how these frustrations will affect him in the Dallas Cowboys’ upcoming season.

Since going undrafted in 2016 and spending two years on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, Antwaun has since found a home and starting role on the Cowboys’ defense. He’s arguably been the team’s most consistent DT the last two seasons.

Unfortunately, Woods’ emergence in Dallas has yet to yield a true NFL payday. His two years in Tennessee didn’t count as “accrued seasons” according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and thus he has yet to qualify for unrestricted free agency.

Antwaun’s initial two-year deal ended this year and he became an exclusive rights free agent. As was their right, Dallas offered Woods a minimal $750k EFRA tender. That meant no other team could negotiate with Antwaun; he either takes the Cowboys’ offer or sits out.

It’s a tough place for any player who has already risen to being a starter. We usually see ERFAs as developmental prospects who are happy to even get that one-year offer to remain in the league.

Not only is Woods trapped in 2020, but he also faces the prospect of being a restricted free agent next year. That means Dallas could again keep him for far less than market value; somewhere between $2-$3 million based on this year’s numbers.

Keep in mind that Antwaun is already 27. By the time he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2022 he will be 29 and near the end of the typical “prime years” for a defensive lineman. It will take some big seasons for him to hit the open market and draw attention.

Unfortunately for Woods, the Cowboys’ offseason has made that much more difficult for him.

Report: Free Agent DT Dontari Poe to Sign With Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys DT Dontari Poe

Dallas has made three significant additions at defensive tackle: veterans Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, plus 3rd-Round rookie Neville Gallimore. Even with Maliek Collins leaving for Oakland, the position is much more crowded now than in previous seasons.

The real problem for Antwaun Woods in these new arrivals is Poe. A former 1st-Round pick and two-time Pro Bowler, Dontari is walking in as the assumed new starter for the “1-tech” and nose tackle positions that Woods has occupied since 2018.

The typical Cowboys offseason might have seen them add Poe and then slide Woods over to replace Collins. But they’ve made an unusual investment in the DT position this year with their other moves. On top of the fresh faces, there’s also Trysten Hill entering his sophomore season.

With McCoy and Poe as the new veterans and Gallimore and Hill as the young prospects, it leaves Antwaun Woods in a difficult spot. Throw in Tyrone Crawford’s versatility as a DT option and there’s a case to be made for Woods not even making the 2020 roster.

Unfortunately, getting cut and joining a new team doesn’t change anything about accrued seasons. Woods will still be facing the same RFA status in 2021 with any team he’d catch on with.

Another complicating factor this season for Antwaun is last December’s arrest for marijuana possession and other charges. While the NFL’s views on this matter are shifting, the arrest could still lead to a suspension to start the season. That could reduce his value to Dallas and any other teams.

It all adds up to legitimate sources of frustration for Antwaun Woods, and there have been signs recently that it’s been getting to him.

Antwaun Woods
Dallas Cowboys DT Antwaun Woods

Just recently, Woods shut down his Twitter account after being one of the more active and engaging Cowboys players on the app. This came after a few months of various tweets which indicated his displeasure with where he stood on the team and/or in the eyes of the league.

While the account’s deletion prevents me from sharing the exact messages now, I can relay some of the more memorable messages. In late March, after the Gerald McCoy signing, there was one about being “counted out” as a significant factor on the defense.

Just a few weeks ago during the draft, Antwaun tweeted about the politics of the draft process and how going undrafted (like he did) isn’t about how talented you are.

Back in October, after the Cowboys fined him for being late to a meeting, Woods took to Twitter to defend himself against negative fan reactions.

So when Antwaun closed his account it led to logical speculation about what’s going on with the player. Of course, it could just be a personal choice for any number of reasons. Or maybe his agent or another advisor recommended it.

It’s dangerous to read too much into that activity, but it’s not a reach to say Antwaun is probably frustrated by multiple factors over the last few months. Some are self-inflicted wounds like fine and the arrest, but the overall picture is one of a discontented player.

Unfortunately for the player, the chance to get on the field and create positive attention could be limited by the Cowboys’ new arrivals.

We can only wait and see just how this 2020 season will play out for Antwaun Woods. He’s been mostly a success story up until now; undrafted free agent becoming a starter for the Dallas Cowboys. But this year feels like a career crossroads, and the path has more obstacles for him now than in previous seasons.

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. Woods is who he is , an undersized, overachiever who fit into the Garrett concept that defense tackle was not a priority and could be filled by a committee of cheap fill in players.The Ram playoff game showed Woods’ problems against playoff caliber competition. So, good for a hard worker in Woods that he made over a million dollars in his mid twenties and played several years in the league. But, the new coaches have a much different view of defense tackle and looked to seriously spend money there and Woods is not a talent at that level. And, yes, getting arrested for drugs and being a pothead does not help anyone in any job site to look more valuable.

    • To be fair about that Rams game, both Antwaun and Maliek Collins were playing hurt that day. Woods suffered a torn labrum and played through it.

      But you’re right about the undersized aspect, which Dontari Poe certainly fixes.

  2. wow those 2 years on titans PS don’t count?? WTF, I feel for antwan, cuz the dude has been a pleasant surprise on DL since joining dallas, but the weed incident wasn’t good for him or the team, but truly like watchin him in the trenches ans he has a good motor….I say cut that tavon austin china doll already and give antwan HIS salary, cuz dat dude austin been stealin cowboy blind sitting on the pine collecting a cowboy stimulus check!!!!

  3. I think that Antwaun would be better served going somewhere else, but if I were the Cowboys, I would want him on the 90-Man roster now. You never know what injuries will occur and depth is very important going into the Preseason (especially cost-effective depth!). However, if they really valued him, I believe they would have offered him a bit more than $750,000. So who knows how this will all shake out. Woods just might decide to sit out 2020.

  4. He is who he is. Free agent feel good story. He just doesn’t have the size or elite athletic gifts that Poe and McCoy have. With that said both McCoy and Poe are old and will be even more injury prone. It would be wise to keep him around because he is still young and productive. And cheap. Tristan Hill is looking more like another Taco Charlton. Trade him to the Raiders and get something for him while you can.

  5. Gallimore will supplant Woods on the depth chart. Hill should be gone. He was a problem to his coach in college and that resumed in pros. Never understood why they drafted him, especially in second rd???

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