The Cowboys' defensive backfield was a M.A.S.H. unit near the end of the 2022 season. Five players in the backfield ended the season injured. Keeping this unit healthy may be the biggest challenge for Dan Quinn.
Because, when healthy, the defensive backs were a big reason why the team finished third in the NFL with 54 sacks. Add in 16 interceptions and a league-leading 17 fumbles recovered and Dallas' defense was solid.
But the injuries began taking their toll and the defense slipped down the stretch. The collapse at Jacksonville and letting Gardner Minshew carve them up the following week being prime examples.
Assuming everyone comes back healthy, the Cowboys are setting very nicely for 2023.
Could they add another veteran to the mix, especially if they lose Donovan Wilson to free agency?
I hear you Cowboys fans, asking for Jalen Ramsey or Brandon Jones. But those players will come at a high price and Dallas really doesn't have to spend the money on this room.
I don't see Ramsey or Jones coming to Dallas. Even if they wanted to, I don't see how Dallas can afford either of them in terms of picks and salary.
But I also don't see Anthony Brown returning either.
Brown's season ended with a torn Achilles in December against the Colts. He's a free agent this year and likely played his last game for Dallas.
So, assuming they don't draft a cornerback in the first round — yes, I'm still lobbying for Bijan Robinson if he's there at 26 — who do they go get?
New England's Jonathan Jones and Arizona's Patrick Peterson are free agents and could come in at an acceptable price. Pair either with Trevon Diggs and NFL quarterbacks are going to have migraines.
DaRon Bland looks to be a solid backup at the position and there's always the chance that Kelvin Joseph will become a little more reliable. Joseph does have potential, but the task for Quinn will be unlocking it.
Wilson may be a victim of the Cowboys' cap woes.
He has been a terror on the blitz and is probably looking at picking up between $5-7 million a year as he enters free agency. Dallas might not have that kind of money for him.
Wilson's only downside is his tackling and the Cowboys may figure they can find another young safety in the draft to replace him.
The good news is that they have some good talent already at the position.
Israel Mukuamu, Jayron Kearse, and Malik Hooker are signed for 2023. If Dallas does elect to let Wilson go, they wouldn't be relying on a raw rookie to roam their defensive backfield alone.
Again, what Dallas can do here will depend on how much money they can recover in restructured contracts and cap-saving cuts. Personally, I'd hate to see Wilson go.
But Wilson may have to depart The Star and if it were my call to make, I'd set an acceptable maximum amount to offer him. If he takes it, great. If not…
Go get a safety in the draft, try to sign an affordable veteran cornerback in free agency, and hope everyone comes back healthy.
All the defensive backs have to do in 2023 is play solid coverage and allow the Cowboys' pass rush to do its thing.