DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys developed a safety on his rookie contract and didn't let him get away in free agency.
On Tuesday, the Cowboys signed former 2019 sixth-round pick Donovan Wilson to a three-year contract worth $21 million with $13.5 million guaranteed.
Wilson generated 101 combined tackles, seven tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits, 5.0 sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery, two forced fumbles, and two pass breakups while starting all 17 games in 2023 — quite the argument to be made for Dallas to retain the former Texas A&M Aggie.
NFL reporter Aaron Wilson was able to obtain details from the Wilson contract, and they appear to be fair compensation for a dynamic safety.
Wilson earns a $6.6 million signing bonus from the deal. In the first year, Wilson's $1.4 million base salary is guaranteed. In 2025, the base salary is $5.5 million guaranteed. In the final year of the contract, Wilson's $6.5 million contract is not guaranteed.
The former Shreveport Woodlawn High School product earns a $14,706 per game active roster bonus for the first two years of his contract. Wilson then earns a $29,412 per game active roster bonus through the 2025 season.
Some of the incentives in Wilson's contract include a $1 million playing time/interceptions incentive each year. Wilson also has a $250,000 de-escalator in each year of his contract.
Safety Jayron Kearse said ahead of the NFC divisional against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 18 that what enabled Wilson to finally tap into his potential was staying healthy and stacking physical and mental reps.
"I think his biggest thing was just health," said Kearse. "His mentality is second to none. He's a guy that can run through a brick wall. When he gets going, it's hard to stop him. Whatever that's in his tracks, it's getting ran through. He's just been the same player since the day I met him. Health was his main issue. He has shown that he can play a physical game and still remain healthy. You just see it on the field when he hits somebody. We sit there like, 'Damn, I know they felt that.' The physicality he comes with is ridiculous."
Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Dec. 7, 2022, that Wilson has become a "magnet for the football."
Said McCarthy: "You talk about a magnet for the football, loves contact, his intensity. I mean, he’s as good as a ballhawker, particularly extractor that I’ve been around; the way he separates offensive perimeter players away from the football. So, he’s the same guy every day."
The Cowboys will get to see more of Wilson's physicality on their backend for the next three seasons.
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