A host of teams showed interest in former Falcons first-round pick Keanu Neal, but the veteran safety appears to be down to two finalists. Neal is deciding between the Cowboys and Jets, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets.
Initially, the Panthers, Lions, Colts and Vikings inquired about Neal. While Neal would seem redundant on a Jets team that has Marcus Maye, Ashtyn Davis and the recently added Lamarcus Joyner, Anderson adds that the veteran safety plans on moving to outside linebacker.
Neal likely will not be a costly addition, but the multiple-suitor aspect is interesting for his value. After missing 28 games between the 2018-19 seasons, Neal returned to play in 14 for the Falcons last season. While he is still just 25, the ex-Florida Gator will bring extensive injury baggage to his next team. Neal suffered a torn ACL in 2018 and an Achilles tear in ’19.
In Neal’s three non-injury-wrecked seasons, he totaled at least 100 tackles. Pro Football Focus graded him as a slightly above-average safety in each of those slates, so a linebacker move would be interesting as Neal heads into his second act as a pro.
The Jets are shifting to a 4-3 defense; the Cowboys have used that scheme for a while. The Cowboys, in an ideal world, have two three-down linebackers in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. But injuries have intervened there, creating a need for depth. C.J. Mosley would man the middle for the Jets, after missing most of the past two seasons. The team may still be looking for help at outside ‘backer, and Neal played five seasons under Dan Quinn. Robert Saleh plans to run a similar defense in his first Jets season.
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