IRVING, Texas – With free agency beginning on March 12, the Cowboys have several decisions to make regarding the improvement of this team.
Last year, they were extremely aggressive in free agency, signing seven players, including Brandon Carr, Kyle Orton and Dan Connor in the first two days of the signing period.
Don't expect that kind of frenzy this year. In fact, it could be rather slow depending on how much cap room the Cowboys have by March 12.
But over the next week, all three DallasCowboys.com staff writers will help break down five different positions that could be intriguing for the Cowboys in free agency.
Today, we'll continue with safeties.
What They Have:
Things have changed dramatically at the safety spot, thanks in large part to the recent release of veteran Gerald Sensabaugh. The move was mainly for financial reasons, but it's also clear the Cowboys are confident they can fill their needs at safety, either through the draft or free agency. But this team is also confident in some of the players on the roster, including Barry Church, who is coming off an Achilles injury. Matt Johnson has yet to prove he can stay healthy, but obviously the team is excited about his potential. The Cowboys tendered Danny McCray and could re-sign free agent Eric Frampton.
- *Nick Eatman *
Who's Out There:
A plethora of 2012 starters are now around for the taking, particularly after Jags safety Dawan Landry, Chargers safety Atari Bigby and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson joined a sizable group of veteran safeties available in free agency following their releases on Friday. Among those players are Louis Delmas, Dashon Goldson, Glover Quin, Ed Reed, Ronde Barber, William Moore, LaRon Landry and Kenny Phillips. Many of these numerous candidates have dealt with recent injuries, which could put a red flag on those players for a Cowboys team uninterested in another season full of defensive absences. Quin hasn't missed a game the last three seasons. Reed also hasn't missed a game the last two years and can undoubtedly alter games in the secondary, but he's battled through injuries toward the latter half of his career and may look for more short-term money than the Cowboys can give out. Players like Goldson, Delmas and Moore also might search for a hefty contract, though Delmas has only been on the field for 19 games the last two seasons. The 28-year-old Goldson might be the best available safety for the long-term, racking up nine interceptions the last two seasons on one of the more feared defenses in the league, while Moore can point to his four interceptions in 2012 while looking for a deal. Then, of course, Charles Woodson's presence in free agency adds another decorated veteran on the radar of talented teams in need of a short-term option to get over the hump. The vast numbers of defensive backs available could mean some of the mid-tier safeties in free agency may not find a deal they're hoping for, which could benefit a Cowboys team in need of help at the position.
- *Rowan Kavner *
What They'll Do:
It has been an interesting offseason already for the position of safety. Starter Gerald Sensabaugh was released leaving just Church, Johnson, McCray and potentially only Sterling Moore on the depth chart. Church had a promising start to the 2012 season, but he injured his Achilles against Tampa Bay and was done for the season. Johnson hurt his hamstring in mini camps and was never able to recover as much as he tried. McCray was put in the starting role but having to play safety along with his special teams duties took their toll on him. Moore was added to the squad from New England's practice squad and saw action both at corner and safety. With so many questions ahead, the sense of urgency to try and get the right fits for the new scheme becomes front and center not only in this upcoming draft but free agency as well. The one thing that is in the favor of this front office is that the depth in both areas is actually better than it has been in years. I remember years where there would be one safety that was on the top of everyone's board and the drop off was tremendous to the next player. The top rated safety in this draft is Kenny Vaccaro of Texas, who when you study you come away impressed by his ability to not only play with a physical natural, but you see him in this Texas scheme cover down in the slot and looking comfortable doing it. Jonathan Cyprien of Florida International, Matt Elam of Florida, Tony Jefferson of Oklahoma, TJ McDonald of USC, Eric Reid of LSU, DJ Swearinger of South Carolina and Phillip Thomas of Fresno State are all options as well. I personally like Cyprien myself because of his ability to play with range in coverage, but he is also not afraid to stick his nose in there to tackle. [embedded_ad]
On the free agent side, as mentioned, the list is a solid one with Goldson, Reed, Barber, Woodson, Moore, Wilson and Dawan Landry. I believe it will be very difficult to add Goldson, Reed, Moore and most likely Woodson. The interesting name for me here is Barber and whether he'd come and play for the defensive coordinator that made his career. There are things that Barber could do leadership wise and in watching him play, he still has ability to his game. The Bucs played him in the slot and near the line in certain situations where he was effective. If the price was right, he could be a solid bridge that could allow you to draft a safety but help in the development of Church, Johnson and potentially a rookie. Again, the position has options, so they can be selective in what direction they will most likely go, which is a positive situation when you are trying to build your team.
- *Bryan Broaddus *