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The Cowboys have a list of old free agents who will only return for depth or lack of better options reasons. Linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking are aging and have value as back-ups. Everyone else is marginal at best.
It isn’t tough to determine the contract worth for James and Brooking, but the numbers may creep up for Holley and Ogletree.
Mat McBriar ($1 million)
McBriar is coming off foot surgery, and Dallas may devalue his worth because of it. He's still one of the league’s best punters, and if he fully recovers, I expect Dallas to sign him at a reduced price.
Update: McBriar is no longer a top priority for the Cowboys as the team has announced that punter Chris Jones will take over punting duties in 2012. The team may bring McBriar back for training camp, but all signs point to him going into free agency.
Alan Ball ($565,000)
I do not think the Cowboys should bring Ball back. His previous contract was a one-year deal worth $1.2 million. If he returns, his contract should be half of that.
Martellus Bennett ($635,000)
Bennett is a great blocking tight end, but he drops off a bit in terms of catching the ball. Dallas needs him to do both, and since he can’t, the two need to part ways. He can come back for a reduced rate, but for me, it isn’t worth it.
Keith Brooking ($400,000)
Of course, these numbers are all estimates. If Brooking returns, which is doubtful, he will come back for cheap. Dallas can keep him as a backup and for certain Nickel situations, but otherwise there's no need to keep him.
Abram Elam ($1.7 million)
Elam made $2.5 million last season, and if he returns, I expect Dallas to give him a seriously reduced salary. He was the communications guy in the defensive backfield and did not do a great job of that.
Dallas needs a long-term option at safety, and Elam is not in those plans.
Montrae Holland ($500,000)
I think that Holland should remain for depth. He's an OK lineman who can fill in when needed or when the starter needs rest. He made $500,000 last year and should make the same amount in 2012.
Anthony Spencer ($3 million)
Update: Spencer has been Franchised according to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com. La Canfora states that Spencer and the team will continue to work on a longer deal.
Spencer will be allowed to test free agency, and my thought is that he’ll be back in 2012. I think that a $3 million hit next season is enough for a player like Spencer. He’ll get the team a few sacks, and if Ratliff moves to the edge and a new nose tackle is brought in, his numbers may rise.
Bradie James ($2 million)
My $2 million number may be a serious overestimate. James just finished a five-year, $20 million deal with Dallas. No way he has a snow ball’s chance in hell of getting another deal like that with Dallas.
Played great while he was here, and deserves to win, but Dallas has to move on or sign him to a reduced deal.
Clifton Geathers (Practice Squad)
Geathers has been a project of the Cowboys and so far, he hasn’t worked out. Keep him on the practice squad or release him, but there is no need to place a number on him.
Jesse Holley ($385,000)
Holley aided the Cowboys greatly in their win against the Niners last season. I think he will eventually have good pay-off for the Cowboys, but he’ll have to continue to work hard and show Dallas his worth.
Another one-year deal worth what he made last season would be worthy enough.
Kevin Ogletree ($385,000)
Ever since I saw Ogletree struggle to find where he needs to line up against the Redskins, my thoughts on him have changed. I thought he would turn into a pretty good slot guy for Dallas, but I may be wrong.
It may be worth keeping him for another season because Dallas has so much invested, but it also may be time to move on. The Cowboys cannot make that decision yet because of depth and the uncertainty of Laurent Robinson.