The Dallas Cowboys signed veteran safety George Iloka Saturday night to a one year deal. Iloka fits Dallas’ free agent strategy of filling holes with low-cost veterans prior to the NFL Draft to a T.
After flirting with multiple safeties over the past week including Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry, the Cowboys decided to ink Iloka. Possibly due to the fact that Iloka has been the far healthier athlete.
Games played from 2014-2018:
– Eric Berry, 41
– Earl Thomas, 61
– George Iloka, 76
Iloka is much less injury prone. He's only missed four games in that entire span.
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) March 24, 2019
The Cowboys have had interest in signing Iloka in the past. Once the Bengals released the six-year veteran to make way for their up and coming rookie Jessie Bates III last August, Dallas brought him in for a visit. Although Iloka ended up in Minnesota, it is obvious the Cowboys still remained interested.
It seemed as though Iloka never really fit in up north with the Vikings as they had Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo firmly entrenched as starters during the 2018 season. Prior to that, Iloka was a mainstay in the Bengals secondary. He started 76 of 80 games for Cincinnati from 2013-2017.
The former Bosie State Bronco has:
Tackles – 79 (2014 & 2017)
Interceptions – 3 (2014 & 2016)
Pass Defenses – 10 (2014)
Tackles – 362
Interceptions – 9
Pass Defenses – 32
Games – 99
In Dallas, Iloka should have little difficulty fitting in off the field as he will join fellow Bosie State alums in Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, Kellen Moore (OC), Darian Thompson, and Cedrick Wilson Jr. The Cowboys sure do love their Broncos.
On the field, Iloka has played both the free and strong safety spot in his career. There is some debate as to which position is his more dominant role, however, it seems likely that the Cowboys will be using him more in a strong safety capacity.
Cowboys had some concerns about Eric Berry’s health. George Iloka has been durable. The plan is to use him as a strong safety after he has spent most of his time as a free safety.
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) March 24, 2019
Standing at 6’4″ 225 pounds, Iloka gives Kris Richard a piece in the secondary that, at least physically, resembles Kam Chancellor from Richard’s “Legion of Boom” days. Iloka’s long frame will fit in nicely with Vander Esch (6’4″), and Jaylon Smith (6’3″) making throwing lanes in the middle of the field that much smaller for opposing quarterbacks.
As we sit nearly one month prior to the 2019 NFL Draft, it feels safe to assume that Iloka will be the Cowboys starting SS when the team heads to training camp. The impact of this would be two-fold in that it would allow 2018’s starting SS Jeff Heath to return to a reserve role. It also solidifies up and coming player Xavier Woods’ status as the team’s starting free safety.
While Dallas could still draft a safety early, Iloka’s versatility to play both safety spots will free the team up to even further stick to their “best player available” drafting strategy.
By inking Randall Cobb, Christian Covington, and Kerry Hyder Jr., Dallas has adequately covered themselves after the departure of Cole Beasley in the slot and suspensions of David Irving and Randy Gregory along the defensive line. And while the latter has a decent chance to return for 2019, factor in the murky DeMarcus Lawrence contract situation and the Cowboys pass rush is iffy at best.
Which begs the question – How much longer before we hear about the Cowboys and Dolphins finalizing the much-rumored trade for DE Robert Quinn? It seems as though addressing the pass rush is the final glaring need prior to the NFL Draft.
Parting note: It seems as though the newest Cowboys are having fun on social media announcing their new team.
— George Iloka (@George_iloka) March 24, 2019
— Randall Cobb (@rcobb18) March 19, 2019