Over the weekend, former Falcons safety Keanu Neal inked a one-year deal for $5 million with the Dallas Cowboys — via Tom Pelissero — where he joins his former head coach, Dan Quinn, who is now the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.
The #Cowboys have agreed to terms with former #Falcons safety Keanu Neal on a one-year, $5 million deal, per source.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 20, 2021
It seems that Quinn will deploy Neal more so as a weakside linebacker, rather than the strong safety position he played in Quinn’s Atlanta defense — something many Falcons fans have been begging for. The reality is that Neal will play a hybrid role but might play in the box more than he ever has.
I'm told #Falcons free agent S Keanu Neal is currently deciding between playing WLB for the #Cowboys or the #Jets, per source.
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 19, 2021
The former Florida Gator will surely be playing for a long-term deal when he hits free agency in 2022, but Neal choosing Quinn over Jeff Ulbrich in New York is surprising. Ulbrich has a connection to Neal and the Jets defense is much better than their NFC East counterparts, but $5 million might’ve been too much for a player with a history of injuries in the eyes of New York’s front office.
The deal has high-upside potential if the former first-round pick can stay healthy and continue building off his first full season since 2017. Neal is also not the only former player that Quinn may reunite with as Cowboys. According to Todd Archer, the Cowboys are scheduled to meet with Damontae Kazee.
The Cowboys are scheduled to visit with free-agent safeties Damontae Kazee and Malik Hooker next week, according to multiple sources. Both players are coming off Achilles’ tears suffered last season. Kazee played for new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn… https://t.co/prtaKkblCH
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) March 19, 2021
Even though the Falcons safety room is bleak, the new regime was always unlikely to resign either of them. Erik Harris was the only addition Terry Fontenot made to the safety position, which effectively replaced Neal as the two play a similar style of football. The front office will have to add at least three more safeties to the roster, purely for camp bodies, but I wouldn’t expect anything ground-breaking.
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