Many in the NFL community were surprised to find out that the Cincinnati Bengals have cut former starting safety George Iloka. The reality of the NFL is that we see moves like this all the time. Whether or not a player can still contribute is not always the priority, because the money will always have to be right.
On top of that, drop offs happen out of nowhere and the moment a physical player starts to approach 30, you have to worry. At 28, you have to think Iloka can have something left in him, but no one will trust that until he proves it on the field.
After being let go, you get the sense that Iloka may be available at a decent price. On top of that, he should be available for a low risk one year deal, and the Dallas Cowboys should not be confident enough in their secondary to disregard him as an option.
The Cowboys are using Byron Jones to CB this season, and that makes their core of safeties one of the most uncertain on the team. They have solid pieces in Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier, but these are far from superstars, with minimum NFL experience.
Keep in mind, Woods is dealing with a hamstring injury, and even if he could just miss one week, the Cowboys know too well of how that kind of thing can linger and reappear.
Right now, Iloka could be a strong body for the Cowboys in the secondary. They will not be able to trust him roaming back in coverage, but having him play closer to the line of scrimmage will enable their better pure coverage players to stay in better positions.
At the very least, Iloka is a physical safety and you cannot simply dismiss that. His impact alone is valuable, but having that additional option will make it easier for the Cowboys to use all their safeties in the best positions possible. Iloka’s experience can also be valuable as the Cowboys look for these younger options to settle into what they can do best.
The Cowboys defense has a different feel going into this season. They have young pieces that should be ready to take the next step, and they are going to need that to happen with an offense that is coming off a terrible season, and has just let go their top weapon on the outside.
The more options the Cowboys have at safety the better off they will be, and the more guidance this defense has the better off they will be. He may not be the dream that Earl Thomas is, but having a safety of this caliber become available at this time was unexpected.
Money will always be an issue, and who knows what kind of suitors Iloka will have. At the very least, the Cowboys should be giving him a good look, because they cannot pass up on any opportunity to help birng this defense to the level that it needs to be.
After last season, the Cowboys are far from saying that this roster is a finished product, and finding out if Iloka could be a valuable weapon for them in the secondary needs to be a part of working towards that finished product.
You cannot rule out the possibility that Iloka will never be the same player he once was, and the Cowboys may never be willing to pay him enough money. Right now, however, the Cowboys understand their defense has to meet a certain standard and their core of safeties is far from a sure thing.