While the media and many Dallas Cowboys remain on the lookout for a possible trade for Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl free safety Earl Thomas, the man who currently has the job, second-year safety Xavier Woods, is focused on rendering all the talk moot.
“I just worry about what I can control, and that’s me playing out there every day,” Woods said Saturday at training camp. “I’m trying to give them a reason not to want anybody. That’s my point of view.”
Woods has heard the rumors. How could he not? They have been flowing monthly, weekly and sometimes daily since Thomas ran Cowboys coach Jason Garrett down following a game last December, telling him to come get him.
The Cowboys and Seahawks did engage in discussions at the start of free agency and during the 2018 NFL Draft in April.
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And while executive vice president Stephen Jones said nothing has materialized on that front since, Thomas’ holdout from Seahawks camp in hopes of a new contract extension will continue to keep the possibility of a trade open until the start of the season.
In the meantime, Woods remains singularly focused on doing what he can do to control his own destiny.
“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Woods said. “I just control what I can control. I have it now and I have no plan on giving it back.”
Woods plans to use his time in training camp and preseason games to make the most of his opportunity as he has done his entire career.
“That’s all football is, just making the most of your opportunity,” Woods said. “When your number is called, answer that door, man. Don’t give them no reason to give that position back. Once you get it, don’t give it back. That’s my mindset.”
His mindset is fueled by more than just the Thomas talk.
He is still chafed by having to wait until the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft before being picked after a stellar career as a playmaker at Louisiana Tech.
“I’m already motivated,” Woods said. “That comes from 190 reasons to be motivated. That’s where that comes from. 190 guys were drafted before me.”
Woods has patterned his game after former Baltimore Ravens standout safety Ed Reed, who Thomas ironically replaced as the definitive, play-making free safety in the game today.
If he shows any of the traits of either on a consistent basis, there will be no need to make a move from Thomas.
It was during this time at training camp last year when the pads came on that Woods starting catching the eye of the Cowboys coaches. He then started the final five games of the season in the team’s search for playmakers in the secondary.
The Cowboys are going to keep their options open but will give Woods every opportunity to keep the job.
“Xavier Woods did a lot of impressive things, not unexpected,” Jones said. “We gave up a future pick to get him. One of his biggest attributes was making plays on the ball. That is showing up.
“One of the biggest parts of playing defense is if you can make plays and create turnovers and do those type of things. He has certainly shown a propensity to do that. We will continue to look for ways to improve that situation if we feel like is needed. If the right situation presents itself then we would look at it.”
Not if Woods has any say in the matter.