News moves pretty fast in Cowboys Nation these days. Today, the Dallas Cowboys are set to visit with the safety Eric Berry. What would he bring to the team?
The Cowboys “struck” and missed in the Earl Thomas sweepstakes. However, they plan on continuing their search to find a playmaker on the back end of the defense.
It was reported on Monday that former All-Pro Eric Berry is scheduled to meet with Dallas sometime on Tuesday. If the safety and the Cowboys can agree to a reasonable salary, Berry has the potential to boost a growing defense.
Berry has only played in three games in two years. He has struggled to stay healthy for most of his career. In 2011, Berry ruptured his ACL and missed 15 games.
In 2014, it was announced that Berry had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This did not set him back and he made his return.
He went on and played excellently, but after many more injuries, he suffered one more– a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2018. This safety that has been making comebacks his entire career has earned five Pro Bowl nods and three All-Pro nominations.
The 30-year-old safety is exceptional on the field, but his availability has held him back– sounds familiar (obvious Sean Lee comparison). The Dallas Cowboys have leverage in the negotiations, as they can offer him guaranteed money now.
No teams have bitten at the prospect of getting the newly released safety thus far in free agency. The Cowboys have done their research, and want to talk numbers.
Usually, when a team brings in an established and respected veteran player like Berry, the team does not waste the player’s time with ridiculous proposals.
Now to the numbers on the field. Last year, Berry recorded 12 tackles on 196 snaps. He also gave up a passer rating of 145.8, per Pro Football Focus.
These stats only support what you would see in his film. He struggles covering in man to man situations with tight ends but does a good job when he is close to the line of scrimmage.
He is not an Earl Thomas in the way that he does not play free safety and does not have much range at this point in his career. But what he offers in down in the box, the run support and coverage abilities in zone schemes are enough of a reason to take a low-risk gamble.
Would he be the reason the defense “takes the step over the top”? Probably not. The defense is already looking very promising.
But a healthy Berry could play a decent number of snaps and rotate with current Cowboys’ strong safety, Jeff Heath. This move would add immediate depth at the safety position and allow the unit to complete its transition to a heavy cover-3 defense.
Also, adding Berry would not prohibit the Cowboys from selecting a safety in the draft, such as Taylor Rapp. Berry would probably be on a short term contract that if he once again gets injured, he could easily be released.
The Cowboys are not going to budge on their line on what to pay Berry. They evidently see the value he would bring, but will not risk losing cap space to sign Demarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, or Jaylon Smith.
Those players are Jerry Jones’ real priorities. If Berry is willing to take a low salary in hopes to compete for a Super Bowl, then why not?
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