EL PASO, TX
Being that we have guys that will hit the free agency market, which players do you think the Cowboys may try to sign again if the price is right? Mike Jenkins Felix Jones Ernie Sims...
Bryan: Just because the potential for some depth concerns at linebacker, I could see Ernie Sims coming back but he is a veteran player so the money could be an issue but you might see them try and use the minimum salary benefit to bring him back on the team. The problem with this is that some team might be able to offer a longer and better deal for Sims but just keep in the back of your mind this opportunity to potentially use that benefit if they would like to try and get something done.
Rowan: I think Sims is the only one from that trio I see potentially wearing a Cowboys uniform next season, but I wouldn't be surprised if none of them are back. The three players the Cowboys really wanted to return – Anthony Spencer, Phil Costa and Danny McCray – have all at least been offered a deal. Sims is more comfortable in the 4-3 scheme, so that could help his cause if the team wants to test him out next to Sean Lee and Bruce Carter or as a backup. Eric Frampton might be another guy they'd like to keep around, but I'd expect most of the team's unrestricted free agents to be elsewhere by the start of the season.
Given that the linebackers in a 4-3 scheme are not being asked to go against offensive linemen as much, does the new scheme possibly keep Lee and Carter healthier?
Bryan: That's a great question but the injuries to Lee and Carter were both freak situations and hopefully will not happen again. But to your point, in a 4-3 your linebackers are covered by a front which allows them some protection where in a 3-4 scheme they are uncovered and exposed allowing blockers to have better access to them. Hopefully Lee and Carter just have better football luck this season and can remain injury free.
Rowan:It can't hurt. It does leave them less vulnerable to the constant battering of the bruisers on the line, and it should also help open more lanes for them to reach the quarterback or ball [embedded_ad] carrier. But if you think about both of their injuries, the scheme was hardly a cause. Carter was chasing a player down on the sideline, while Lee just happened to get his toe bent back going for a tackle. Still, the constant grind of going head on with linemen should be limited, which might be able to elongate their starts and careers.