Cowboys secondary loses former starter, Xavier Woods inked by Vikings

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Asa Henry
·3 min read
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Another former member of the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary has found a new home. Earlier in the month, Chidobe Awuzie found a new home with the Cincinnati Bengals. On Saturday his 2017 draft classmate left the area as well as the Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms with safety Xavier Woods.

A dwindling market based on reduced cap space seems to have claimed another victim in 2021 free agency. The Vikings agreement with Woods is for just one-year, and worth up to $2.25 million. This is an amount and length much less than most assumed Woods would be able to command prior to the reduction of cap space from 2020’s $198.2 million to 2021’s $182.5 million total.

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Woods was a sixth-round pick by Dallas in 2017 out of Louisiana Tech. After a few spot starts as a rookie, Woods improved in his second and third years and became a solid player considering the draft capital the team spent on him.

Woods availability was a strong suit for him in Dallas. After taking over the starting role in the offseason before 2018 began, Woods started 44 of 48 games and was second on the team in snaps over that three-year span, behind only linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Many fans had high hopes that Woods would take another step forward in his contract year in 2020, but that wasn’t the case. Not only did the entire defensive unit take a huge step back, but Woods own play seemed to regress as well in the group’s first season under Mike Nolan.

Year

Starts

Interceptions

Pass Breakups

2018

14

2

9

2019

15

2

5

2020

15

0

1

Nolan shifted Woods primary role from that of free safety to that of strong safety, and although the club played a two-high look often, Woods’ performance didn’t match the ascension he had shown previously.

While 2020 wasn’t his strongest showing, it was an unusual year for all involved, to say the least. At just 25-years old, Woods is a talented player who can easily find success and continue his improvement in a new environment in Minnesota.

Donovan Wilson made the most of his ten starts at safety in 2020 for Dallas, and he looks to be a potential building block at the position. The club signed former Falcons safety Damontae Kazee earlier in the week, which along with the Jayron Kearse signing and hybrid defender Keanu Neal showed the writing on the wall as far as Woods return to Dallas was concerned.

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