Just before the draft we had news that Wide Receiver Cedrick Wilson and Defensive Tackle Antwaun Woods had both signed their restricted free agent tenders to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. Now with Woods getting released last week, should Wilson be worried about his own job security?
Antwaun and Cedrick both received the lowest-tier RFA tender for 2021 at about a $2.18 million cost against the salary cap. With no guaranteed money on these deals, Dallas saved that whole amount by releasing Woods and could double those savings if they cut Wilson as well.
The fact that Cedrick survived last week’s roster moves tells you something about his situation compared to Antwaun’s. At defensive tackle, Dallas has been busy with free agent additions (Brent Urban, Carlos Watkins) and two draft picks (Osa Odighizuwa, Quinton Bohanna) plus carryover prospects Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore. It was already getting hard to see Woods’ place in that group when projecting the 53-man roster for next season.
It’s been different at receiver. While Simi Fehoko was added in the draft, Wilson and Noah Brown remained the only experienced depth behind the “Big 3” of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Ceedee Lamb. It’s quite possible that all six will make the official roster this year.
Of all the current depth options, Wilson has the best resume for potentially replacing Gallup in 2022. It’s no secret that Michael will be an free agent next year and the likelihood of him fitting under the Cowboys’ budget isn’t good. He stands to be one of the top free agents available at the WR position and should get a lucrative offer from somebody.
Assuming he doesn’t have a breakout year in 2021, which would probably only happen due to an injury among the Big 3, Cedrick should be much easier to re-sign. But we saw last year against Seattle that Wilson has big-game potential with five catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Potentially enhancing Cedrick’s value is his special teams work as a returner. He’s handled both punts and kickoffs at times for Dallas the last two years and, at least as of right now, remains one of the top candidates for those roles going into next season.
Noah Brown is still here as a veteran backup and is less expensive to the cap. He only counts about $1.1 million and Dallas would only save over $900k by cutting him; less than half of what they’d get by releasing Wilson.
If rookie Simi Fehoko hits the ground running then that could hurt Cedrick’s security. If any of the lesser-known prospects like Stephen Guidry, Aaron Parker, or one of undrafted free agents has a big July and August, that could also pose a threat.
I don’t really think Wilson is going anywhere in 2021. If nothing else, the Michael Gallup scenario for next year makes him an important asset. And as long as the Big 3 stay healthy this year, how much opportunity will Fehoko or any other prospect get to instill confidence in the front office?
But again, nothing is certain this far away from camp, preseason, and final cuts. Wilson’s value could be hurt by what other depth options do in the coming months, but could also go up if someone bad happens among the starters.
Whatever the final outcome, for now it’s clear that Cedrick WIlson is in a safer place that Antwaun Woods was. He carries the same high cap number and opportunity for savings, but he’s likely to be a more critical asset for Dallas this season and perhaps for years to come.