‘Just Quinn, Baby!’ – Carlos Watkins Leaves, But Cowboys D Wins Offseason

Dan Quinn was able to keep the majority of his unit together while adding a key piece during free agency to make the Cowboys defense a formidable force yet again next season.

The Dallas Cowboys defense under coordinator Dan Quinn has been a revelation. After the disaster that was the 2020 season under Mike Nolan, Quinn has taken the defensive unit to task and transformed them into a defense that takes pride in making life uncomfortable for the quarterback.

But after the sour end to last season, there were many question marks around several players and even Quinn himself regarding the want to stay in Frisco.

After Quinn announced he was returning to The Star, a sigh of relief could be heard in Dallas, but attention quickly turned to several starters heading into the free agency market.

After rumors of little to no talks regarding contract extensions, the Cowboys front office clicked into gear during the first week of free agency and went to work.

Defensive starters in Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch, two pillars of the defense, were both re-signed, much to the delight of Cowboy Nation. Takk McKinley and Dante Fowler followed suit, as did run-stuffer Johnathan Hankins.

The former Las Vegas Raider finally put pen to paper on a one-year deal.

That brings us to the loss. On Thursday, D-lineman Carlos Watkins left for Arizona in a mild surprise.

But still …

Then we get to the addition of Stephon Gilmore. Acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts, Gilmore will partner Trevon Diggs to become perhaps the best player-making cornerback pairing in the NFL. That was a signal of the Cowboys’ intent.

After a season that saw Quinn’s unit lead the NFL in takeaways for the second straight year (33), and was fourth in sacks (54), first in forced fumbles (23), and fumble recoveries (17), along with being the fifth-best defense in terms of points allowed (20.1/g), that same nucleus returns next season.

While much of the attention has been on the addition of Brandin Cooks to ease the offensive workload on CeeDee Lamb, it’s also worth noting that Quinn’s defense will see the majority of its starters return along with the addition of Gilmore.

Quinn’s unit are the big winners of free agency, and that isn’t good news for the rest of the NFL.

Time to run it back.

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