Cowboys FA Keanu Neal confirms position switch as he looks for next home

Linebacker Keanu Neal #42 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Linebacker Keanu Neal #42 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys have made some moves in free agency, but there are still some free agents who are waiting to know where they’ll land. One of those players is Keanu Neal. In his second year as a pro, he earned himself a Pro Bowl selection. Sadly, his 2018 and 2019 seasons were cut very short by injuries. After playing his first five years with the Atlanta Falcons as a safety, Neal followed Dan Quinn to Dallas on a one-year deal and moved over to the linebacker position.

During last season, the linebacker started five games throughout the season and split time with re-signed linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Now, his one-year deal is expired and he is back on the free market. On Sunday, NFL’s Ian Rapoport reported that Neal would be switching back to the safety position. Neal himself confirmed it.

So, what does this mean? Is this move being made to give him a better chance and more versatility on the free market? Could it be to replace free agent safety Jayron Kearse if the Cowboys can’t keep him? According to Neal’s tweet, we will have to “just wait.” All we know is that there is a big gap at safety, and the Cowboys need to address it.

Kearse had a breakout year in 2021, and with the front office making the cheapest moves possible, they may be moving on from the standout player. Both Neal and Kearse are big safeties who also succeed when playing closer to the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys have already re-signed Malik Hooker to a small contract and they still have Donovan Wilson on the roster. However, both of those guys weren’t quite as strong as Neal and Kearse in 2021.

Cowboys free agent linebacker Keanu Neal confirms he is switching back to safety

Neal is likely to sign a one-year, prove-it deal wherever he ends up. But will it be with the Cowboys? Neal has shown much more promise at the safety position (rather than linebacker) and he would likely be a cheaper signing than Kearse. However, the language in Rapoport’s tweet makes it seem like Neal is trying to sell himself in the free market rather than planning on sticking around.

Who knows if Neal wants to stay on the team. But Quinn’s return could definitely help keep him around. The front office has made some questionable decisions thus far. How will they handle the safety position ahead of 2022?

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