Dallas Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse was an integral part of a defense that led the NFL in interceptions. The question this offseason is whether the former Clemson Tiger played so well in 2021 that he outpriced himself out of Dallas.
As it stands, the Cowboys will be facing financial constraints this offseason in their attempts to retain several key free agents. It could be argued that Randy Gregory is the top priority for Jerry Jones, with Michael Gallup second and Kearse priority number three.
While some believe Dalton Schultz should also be at the top of that list, the NFL draft could provide a replacement that’ll cost significantly less. On the other hand, Kearse is invaluable as a hybrid safety in Dan Quinn’s defense. He accumulated a noteworthy nine tackles for a loss and two interceptions.
No other safety go toe to toe with every TE week in and week out.
— JK (@Jayronkearse8) February 22, 2022
Did the Cowboys safety do enough to warrant a new contract?
Kearse was indispensable last season. Pro Football Focus gave him solid grades across the board for his solid play. Kearse’s run defense was graded at 69.7, but his coverage skills earned him a 76.2 coverage grade.
Maintaining a 61.5 completion percentage against opposing quarterbacks also merits recognition. Kearse’s pass rushing abilities were on full display last season as well, being brought in on 24 blitzes, notching a sack in the process and a 79.1 PFF pass rush grade.
After being mostly a backup player for most of his career, Kearse was one of the Cowboys’ breakout stars. Yes, I use the star reference loosely. Nevertheless, he led all NFL safeties with 10 pass deflections, and while PFF grades aren’t the end all be all, it should be noted that he was the 12th highest-graded player for his position.
The fact is, the Cowboys have struggled for quite some time to put together a solid secondary. It would behoove them to keep this unit together, at least its main components, Kearse among them. He can play close to the line of scrimmage and has proven his worth as a pass rusher. A player that can effectively play the linebacker/safety role is hard to come by.