FRISCO - We know that new Dallas Cowboys defensive coaches Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr. are already putting their stamp on how this team will do business in 2021.
And we think circling back to their previous employer, the Atlanta Falcons, is part of that stamp.
Atlanta's defense wasn't good enough for Quinn/Whitt to win an argument about creating a talent pipeline from there to here. But Dallas is being linked to Keanu Neal - and that makes sense.
With Xavier Woods slated to become a free agent and only Donovan Wilson and Darian Thompson as playable names on the current depth chart, the Cowboys are looking for help at safety.
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Neal was a 2016 first-round pick of the Falcons - when Quinn was their head coach. In 2017 he earned Pro Bowl honors. Neal started 14 games last year, with Whitt as his position coach.
Now he's about to hit free agency, coming off a fifth-year-option season in Atlanta where he made $6 million. Over the cap has him valued at about $3.6 Million per year, PFF at about $5 million per year.
Neal is 6-1, 216 and a physical player who obviously fits in the defense Quinn will run here. The 25-year-old tore his ACL in 2018 and his Achilles’ in 2019, probably lessening his effectiveness. Also notable: Dallas, in his draft, did not view him as a first-round talent, as the Falcons obviously did.
Kazee, 27, is a former fifth-round pick who sustained a season-ending Achilles injury in early October of the 2020 season. During his four seasons with the Falcons, Kazee - smallish at 5-11, 175 - totaled 199 tackles, 10 interceptions and five forced fumbles.
There are other Quinn/Whitt connected names worth mentioning for DB help in free agency, from Richard Sherman to Ricardo Allen to Blidi Wreh-Wilson to Jaquiski Tartt. But the Neal-Dallas link has always been high on the list of the ones we believe are worth our attention. And now we push Kazee up there as well.
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