in

LikeLike

Xavier Woods’ Future Hangs Over Cowboys Safety Position in 2021

Cowboys’ Safety Xavier Woods has accomplished more than most 6th-round picks, starting three whole seasons before the end of his rookie contract. But with free agency coming in 2021, Woods just had his worst season and his future with the team is in doubt. As our Position Preview series continues, we’ll see how Dallas’ decision on Xavier Woods will affect everything they do at safety this offseason.

One half of the starting safety tandem appears set with Donovan Wilson, who broke out in 2020 as a playmaker. This was Woods’ reputation after the 2018 season but he’s regressed the last two years, replacing big hits and turnovers with coverage breakdowns and costly penalties.

Time will tell if Wilson can keep up his momentum better than Woods did. But at the very least, it’s one starting position that the Cowboys don’t need to worry about in what stands to be a busy offseason.

2021 Safety Contract Statuses

  • Signed
    • Steven Parker
    • Reggie Robinson
    • Darian Thompson
    • Donovan Wilson
  • Free Agents
    • Xavier Woods (U)
U = Unrestricted, R = Restricted, E = Exclusive Rights

Like many on Dallas’ defense in 2020, Woods’ sharp decline came with scheme changes under one-year blunder Mike Nolan. Now that the Cowboys have replaced Nolan with Dan Quinn, they may want to see how Woods performs in a scheme that has allowed safeties like Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Keanu Neal to become household names.

But giving Xavier a second chance would necessitate a second contract. Rather than gamble on Woods, Dallas may be ready to sign a veteran who can bring some stability to a long-running problem position.

To be fair, running with Donovan Wilson as one starter is already risky. He had the big plays in 2020 but wasn’t a standout in general coverage. Now opponents will have more tape on Wilson and be better able to exploit his weaknesses.

Given this, the Cowboys could be motivated to find a more reliable asset for the other safety position. That would definitely mean going outside the family this offseason,

Darian Thompson Emerging as Starting Safety Candidate
Dallas Cowboys Safety Darian Thompson

The Cowboys have tried to get something out of veteran Darian Thompson the last few years but he’s proven to be nothing more than a backup. And with $1.2 million to be gain from cutting Thompson this offseason, Dallas may take the cap space over the player at this point.

That would leave the cupboard very bare with journeyman Steven Parker and the rarely-seen Reggie Robinson. While we all want to see what Robinson can do after being a 4th-round pick last year, expecting him to start in 2021 would be too great a leap.

Dallas tried to upgrade the safety position via free agency last year when they signed veteran Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. But the reasons that Ha Ha was on the market, and why the Cowboys signed him on the cheap, eventually led to him not even making it past final cuts.

There’s also been talk of re-signing cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie or Jourdan Lewis to give them a look at safety. But again, this would be a gamble on top of risk trying to pair one of them with Wilson.

Assuming they let Xavier Woods walk in free agency, the Cowboys will likely look to a mid-range veteran one a short-term contract. There aren’t any elite safety prospects in the 2021 draft class, at least nobody you’d trust to be a Week One starter as a rookie. That should push Dallas to go find someone in March.

Again, that could still be Woods.  With Xavier unlikely to draw much interest in free agency after his down year, Dallas could potentially bring him back without much cost. That would allow him to compete for his starting job or, at worst, be the primary backup to whoever they bring in.

However it shakes out, it all begins with how the Cowboys feel about Xavier Woods. Do they still see the potential from 2018 or have the last two seasons nullified those early flahes? Are they willing to give him another chance in a changing defense?

Whether it’s as a starter or backup, Woods’ potential return in 2021 will be a key driver in what else the Cowboys do at safety this offseason.

~ ~ ~

Other Cowboys 2021 Position Previews

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | C | G

DE | DT | LB | CB

Special Teams

(Click the position above to jump to the article. Links will become active as articles are published.)

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!

Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. I don’t want Woods back as a starter or back up. If a player publicly states he can’t go 100% every play, that’s not a guy i want as we’re trying to improve our defense/culture.

  2. Woods must be allowed to leave along with Thompson. Robinson should likely move back to CB – even though we have not seen him work. Disagree with comment that a draft pick could not come in and start. They need to draft two and let them compete.

  3. Move Chidobe Awuzie to free safety since he played the position in college and was said to have played that position better.

  4. Gary B. When I read that Woods said that, I thought to myself “that is one of the worst public relations statements a player could ever give.” I know we all get tired of the cliche answers to reporter’s questions but that ranks up there with some gaff Biden would say. That, and poor play, pretty much sealed his fate as a future star. People don’t forget the words that cross lips. Woods is a professional athlete getting paid 10 times OR more than what the average family of four makes and yet he admits that he doesn’t give his all for 70 plays each week? Seriously? You don’t give your all for what amounts to 1 1/2 hours of work each week? SMH.

  5. Did any of you actually watch the full interview where Woods is quoted? The media failed to properly expand on his answer and have now used their power to deride his sentiment. He was telling the reporter (who’s question was something akin to, “Are players not playing fast because they still don’t understand the scheme?”) that its impossible to expect to see every player give 100% effort on every play BECAUSE in every NFL game you see examples of players who are not involved in the play going easy. He used an example similar to the offense running a sweep to the right side, that perhaps Lawrence snuffed as soon as the RB got off-tackle … Woods was indicating that the LCB on that play was chasing the ball to the end, so technically that LCB was not giving full effort. It might have been an ill-timed and unwarranted response given he should know how the media could (and did!) put it out there. He never he doesn’t give 100%. IMO, the media failed him in some regards by caring more about a story and the potential for an increased click rate). They caught him at a time where frustration was high (thanks to Nolan) and he should have considered how his answer would be used … it was a sarcastic response to a tired question and it bit him in the court of public opinion .

  6. Clearly Stephen Abel did not see the interview (based on his above comment) yet he too has assumed it to be gospel and a true indication of who Woods is. Scary thing is, folks like that vote on the presidency in the same manner!

  7. For me we have to go Safety in the 2nd or 3rd with a pick. Trevon Moehrig, Richie Grant, Andre Cisco, and Hamsah Nasirildeen will pair well with Donovan Wilson. Wilson is more of a SS type and these prospect a fit the FS role more.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Loading…

0
Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense

What’s Next For Cowboys CB Anthony Brown?

Dak Prescott, Offense

Dallas Cowboys Favorites to win NFC East in 2021