The Dallas Cowboys have now lost two safeties to free agency after a report that J.J. Wilcox will join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.
The Dallas Cowboys knew keeping their defensive secondary intact through this offseason could be a serious issue. With three starters and a key role player hitting free agency this past week, the Cowboys secondary could potentially be riddled with several important holes to fill.
The first penny dropped on Friday as starting free safety Barry Church officially signed a four-year, $26 million deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, the Cowboys have reported lost yet another safety.
According to the Dallas Morning News’ Brandon George, four-year safety J.J. Wilcox has agreed to a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The contract could apparently be worth up to $8.5 million, as it’s likely a very heavy bonus and incentive-laced deal.
Wilcox was a third round selection out of Georgia Southern back in 2013. Having played at the safety position for only one season in college prior to being drafted into the NFL. And the young safety struggled early.
But during his second-year in Dallas, Wilcox started to show signs of becoming the player the Cowboys needed. He recorded 74 tackles, five pass defends and three interceptions in 16 games as the team’s starting free safety.
But Wilcox regressed in his third season, struggling both in coverage and in his tackling. He grading out as one of the worst safeties in the league that year. Wilcox was eventually replaced in the starting lineup by first round selection Byron Jones.
On the roster bubble last offseason, Wilcox seemed to barely make it past the final 53-man roster cut. But the 26-year old had a surprising bounce back season in 2016, posting 49 total tackles, six pass defends and one interception in a pivotal back-up role. Wilcox’s resurgence in a contract year likely earned him his new deal in Tampa Bay.
Now, the Cowboys are down two safeties. On the roster are Jones, special teams ace Jeff Heath and second-year safety Kavon Frazier. Heath is currently the favorite to take Church’s place as Dallas’ starting strong safety this season. But with only three players at the position, the Cowboys will certainly need to bring in some talent either via free agency, the NFL Draft…or both.