The Dallas Cowboys would love to keep Donovan Wilson. The only problem is Wilson is coming off a career season and is expected to have a robust market after he cemented himself as one of Dan Quinn’s most invaluable players.
A year after Jayron Kearse led the team in tackles, Wilson claimed that mantle in 2022. While Kearse and Wilson both have positional versatility, that stat underlines the importance of the safety position in Quinn’s defense.
It would behoove the front office to keep the safety trio together. Kearse and Malik Hooker are under contract for next season, and the early free agency buzz indicates re-signing Wilson is the Cowboys’ foremost priority.
They would also like to retain Leighton Vander Esch and Dante Fowler, but Wilson seemingly sits atop their priority list at the onset.
But what if Dallas gets outbid for the coveted defender? Shouldn’t they have potential contingency plans lined up just in case?
According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Rams free agent Taylor Rapp is a name to keep an eye on in that regard.
Cowboys Rumors: Dallas eyeing Rams’ Taylor Rapp as potential Donovan Wilson replacement.
Here’s Gehlken’s snippet on Wilson’s future.
"What comes of safety Donovan Wilson is perhaps the most pressing question on this side of the ball. On Feb. 28, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones called reuniting Wilson with Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker “obviously a priority.”The coming days should determine if Wilson’s market drives him out of North Texas.Rams safety Taylor Rapp is among the potential contingencies."
Gehlken notes that Rapp is among other replacement options, but the fact Rapp was mentioned by name suggests the front office has taken a shine to him. Jessie Bates, Jordan Poyer, and C.J. Garder-Johnson highlight at top-heavy safety free agent class, but they are likely priced out of Dallas’ spending budget.
The ironic part about Rapp potentially replacing Wilson is that they’re almost polar opposite profiles.
While Wilson is a thumper, he’s occasionally too aggressive for his own good. Rapp, meanwhile, is one of the most sound tacklers amongst safeties, as he’s never missed more than 8.7% of potential tackles in a season and ranks ninth at the position with 148 tackles since 2021, per Pro Football Focus.
It’s important to note Dallas isn’t going to find another Wilson in free agency. They’ll be hard-pressed to do so in the draft, too. Wilson is a unicorn. He can fill multiple positions, and brings unquantifiable value as a defensive back who can plug gaps against the run and apply pressure on quarterbacks.
Rapp, however, would be a palatable addition to the safety rotation.
A former second-round pick in 2019, Rapp earned career-highs in run-defense grade (82.3) and coverage (72.9 grade) in 2022, and his 92 tackles are nothing to sneeze at. His 76.2 player grade ranked 13th among 88 qualifies safeties, and PFF projects him to get just over $7 million per year on the open market.
What say you, Cowboys Nation? How would you feel if Rapp replaced Wilson in Dallas’ secondary?