Keanu Neal made his decision Saturday. He will stick with Dan Quinn, opting to sign with the Cowboys. Dallas agreed to terms with the ex-Atlanta safety on a one-year deal worth $5MM, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
The former first-round pick played five seasons with the Falcons, working in Quinn’s defense for most of that run. While injuries hijacked two seasons from the ex-Florida Gator, Neal returned last season and re-established his value to some degree.
Neal will receive a $3MM signing bonus, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets, with ESPN.com’s Todd Archer noting the deal maxes out at $5MM. It appears the Cowboys secured the ex-Falcon defender at a slightly lower rate. The Jets were the other team mentioned as a Neal finalist, and several other teams inquired about the veteran.
Friday night, Anderson noted Neal was a candidate to work as an outside linebacker on his new team. But with the Cowboys having two three-down ‘backers and a clear need at safety, Neal may make more sense to stay at the position he played in five years under Quinn. It turns out the Cowboys have a layered plan for Neal, with Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram noting (via Twitter) he will be used at both safety and linebacker.
Still just 25, Neal worked as a Falcons starter immediately after joining the team. And in his three non-injury-marred seasons, Neal recorded at least 100 tackles. He posted 106 last season, with a career-high nine tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus graded him as its No. 33 overall safety. He will have a good chance of carrying those talents over to Dallas, considering the scheme familiarity he has with the team’s new defensive coordinator.
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