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USATSI

Business is starting to pick up for the Dallas Cowboys. They weren't players during Monday's spree of legal tampering as 2022 NFL free agency gets underway, but they weren't expected to be -- instead focusing heavily on trying to re-sign their own key talent. That was headlined by clearing cap space with contractual finesse that saw All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence agree to a new deal that fully guarantees $30 million over three years and freeing up money for continued talks with others like Randy Gregory, Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker -- the latter having agreed to terms on a new deal on Tuesday.

Hooker is returning to the Cowboys on a two-year deal worth $8 million, a source confirms to CBS Sports, in a move that rewards the former first-round pick for his late-season upswing and potential to help anchor the secondary behind All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs and All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons. It's a re-up for Hooker after signing a one-year deal in training camp ahead of the 2021 season, having needed more time to recover from a season-ending torn Achilles suffered in 2020.

And, as noted above, the Cowboys are still working to try to retain Kearse to keep him playing in tandem with Hooker (and Donovan Wilson), as more of a hybrid safety/linebacker. 

It was a slow start to the season for Hooker, largely because he was a late addition to training camp -- similar to Damontae Kazee, with the difference being Kazee was signed in the spring after both were giving a simultaneous look. But Hooker began to find his groove on the back end of the season, establishing himself more and more in a defensive backfield that saw Wilson battle injury on more than one occasion and Kazee cool down considerably from his red-hot first few games in a Cowboys uniform. 

It was definitely worth seeing if Hooker could continue his upswing when given a complete offseason under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and the Cowboys got the deal done.