One of the hottest offseason conversations for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys involves the safety position. If the team is going to make a big move in free agency this year, many expect it to be at safety. But what does that mean Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath?
The idea of Dallas adding a marquee safety goes all the way back December 2017, when Seattle's Earl Thomas chased Jason Garrett down the tunnel following a Cowboys-Seahawks game and was recorded saying “come get me.”
The Cowboys didn't trade for Thomas last year despite much speculation. There was still talk that it could happen mid-season, but Earl's Week 4 injury ended his year and any chance of Dallas adding him.
Now Thomas is a free agent. But so are Landon Collins, Adrian Amos, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and several other safeties who could all probably give Dallas an upgrade.
This loaded market is great for the frugal Cowboys. They may not be willing to pay top dollar for guys like Collins or Thomas but could probably land someone like Clinton-Dix, Lamarcus Joyner, or Tre Boston at a reasonable contract.
That's goods news for Dallas fans who want to see improved safety play, and bad news for whichever current Cowboy gets pushed out of the starting lineup.
The odd man out would like be veteran Jeff Heath. With Xavier Woods still developing and yet already becoming an impact player, Heath's adequate but average play is where the team can get better in the secondary.
The real question is if signing a new starter would just send Heath to the bench or get him released for cap savings?
Jeff is scheduled to count $2.95 million against Dallas' 2019 cap. They could save most of that, $2.5 million, by cutting him.
That's not a bad cap hit for a reliable backup and special teams standout, which Heath would certainly be. However, Dallas also has Kavon Frazier with three years of experience. They might decide they can do better things with that cap space and go for younger, cheaper options on the depth chart.
Last week the Cowboys re-signed Darian Thompson, a 2016 third-round pick of the Giants, to return in 2019. They also still have Marqueston Huff, a 2014 fourth-round pick, under contract along with a few other young prospects.
Whether or not Dallas goes big in free agency will likely have a major impact on their draft strategy at safety. No signings could push the position near the top of their need list, while adding a major name could remove it almost entirely.
The team clearly has options, and that leaves Jeff Heath with a fair bit of uncertainty about his future.
With free agency negotiations already underway, Dallas will likely have to strike fast if they want one of the top safeties available. Perhaps we, and Heath, will have a clearer picture of things within the next few days.