The Diamond in the Dirt
When you draft a player with a top pick, you expect them to perform and are disappointed if they don’t. When you draft someone in the later rounds, you don’t expect them to perform but are very pleased when they do.
Safety Xavier Woods is an example of a late-round pick that has performed well. The 2017 sixth-rounder has exceeded many people’s expectations in becoming an important part of the Cowboys defense.
Within three seasons, he had slowly formed himself into a reliable free safety. This past season he had 77 tackles, five passes defended, and two interceptions in 15 games.
With consistent improvements in his play, his value goes up. Now in the last year of his rookie deal, Woods is going to look to get paid. What range would his value be at?
His value as a player is a reliable starter. I would compare his impact on a team similar to that of Tre Boston. A reliable free safety that can get the job done well.
Boston is being paid an average of $6 million per season. By this standard, Woods would be able to fetch anywhere from $5.5 million to $6.5 million per season.
Then again, you can say Woods is a better player than Adrian Amos and Jimmie Ward, who make $9 million and $9.5 million respectively per year. In that sense, you can say his value is at $9 million per season.
Where things get tricky is projecting how good of a season he will have in 2020. I believe that Woods has the potential to be a Pro Bowl safety this season. If by chance he does have that good of a season, his value would move up.
I think Amos and Ward are paid more than they are worth at the moment when you look at where they rank amongst the highest-paid safeties in the NFL. Their production does not match its price.
If Woods does produce a Pro Bowl season, then I can see him earning the $9 million per year. The leverage he would have against Jerry Jones would be huge. Paying $9 million for a Pro Bowl safety is not much money at all compared to other positions’ Pro Bowl players.