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Dallas Cowboys Free Agency: Peyton Manning, More Fool's Gold Signings to Avoid

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIMarch 7, 2012

Dallas Cowboys Free Agency: Peyton Manning, More Fool's Gold Signings to Avoid

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    NFL free agency is coming quickly. The Dallas Cowboys have various needs to fill and several players to replace. Cornerback, backup quarterback and the interior offensive line need to be addressed. Now-retired backup QB Jon Kitna is chief among those whom the Cowboys need to be replaced.

    As the Cowboys take their time looking about the free agency landscape, they surely see several players they'd like to add to address their needs. Some of those players may be good additions, while others would be misguided pickups. Others yet, such as Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb, shouldn't even be considered.

    Following is a short list of players like Manning who some might think would be good signings for the Cowboys, but who would actually be poor considerations.

Peyton Manning

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    Reportedly the Indianapolis Colts will soon release their quarterback. The above picture displays the type of clothing Peyton Manning is likely to be wearing whether any team signs him or he retires.

    Manning's health should be a red flag for any team considering him as a big-money addition at quarterback. He has had four neck surgeries and is still far from recovery.

    Manning can't make all the throws and the nerves in his arm haven't fully regenerated. Manning's agent, Tom Condon, told NFL.com that Manning's nerves are regenerating. However, the stage of regeneration is unclear. If the nerve regeneration is still in its early stages, the nerves might not regenerate for several months.

    Granted, Manning has been cleared to go through contact workouts. However, that doesn't mean he can actually sustain hits. Manning could take one hard hit in a game and be done.

    Another scary thought for the Cowboys if they were to consider signing Manning is that he might not be effective if he were to come back. Sure, he's Peyton Manning, but he's 36 years old and missed an entire season after setting the record for longest playing streak.

    Thus, teams must consider the effects of Iron Man Syndrome. Under Iron Man Syndrome, athletes that play numerous games in a row fall off track once they do miss games. If a player misses time after a long playing streak, he loses rhythm and struggles to stay with the speed of the game.

    That was the case with such Iron Men as Brett Favre, Cal Ripken Jr. and Miguel Tejada.

    Manning might be one of the two or three best quarterbacks of all time, but don't expect him to play at a Hall of Fame level.

Donovan McNabb

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    Donovan McNabb has been a solid quarterback in his career. He had his glory years with the Philadelphia Eagles. McNabb was a clutch player in the playoffs.

    Some believe that McNabb has a few big plays left in him, and that he could still play somewhat effectively.

    But McNabb has endured numerous injuries. From the sports hernia to the ACL tear to everything else, McNabb's body has taken a beating.

    Besides durability issues, McNabb hasn't been that good in the last two years. Last season, he had a 60.3 percent completion rate, 1,026 yards passing and an 82.9 rating in six games. In 2010, McNabb had a 58.3 percent completion rate, 3,377 yards passing, 14 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a 77.1 rating.

    While McNabb might be able to throw a couple of nice passes when called upon, the vast majority of his passes would be problematic. Also, the Cowboys don't need to consider a potential backup with numerous health concerns.

Laron Landry

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    Laron Landry could be an attractive free agent among a safety group that features few studs. Landry is a tough, hard-hitting player. He can make a good amount of plays in the open field.

    However, Landry missed a total of 15 games in the last two years due to injury. Last season, Landry suffered an Achilles injury. He decided not to undergo surgery, going against the advice of Washington Redskins coaches and doctors.

    Explaining his decision to a Washington, D.C., CBS affiliate radio show in an interview, Landry said, "A major surgery is quite hard. You're changing the entire structure of your body and trying to correct it. Recovery time is crucial, rehab is crucial and you sometimes lose range-of-motion and lose strength."

    Rather than surgery, Landry decided to do plasma therapy and a stem cell procedure, which he believed would allow him to recover faster.

    Landry might be a nice addition for the Cowboys if he could prove he's healthy. However, that's a tough bet to make, and a costly one if the Cowboys choose to make it.

Carl Nicks

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    Carl Nicks helped make Drew Brees' life easier in 2011. Brees was only sacked on 3.5 percent of his pass dropbacks, a league-best rate.

    Now, before Cowboys fans get excited about the prospect of signing Nicks, they should consider two factors.

    First, Drew Brees makes everyone better. Not only does his passing ability make pass-catchers look better, but his pocket presence, awareness and overall quarterbacking sensibility makes his offensive line better. Brees always knows what to do, which makes his blockers' job that much easier. His sensibilities make the offensive line look better.

    Even when the New Orleans Saints offensive line was awful, Brees had low sack rates because he simply knew what to do behind the line.

    That doesn't mean Nicks is bad, but he's not quite as good as people give him credit for.

    Second, Nicks' style might not make him a good fit for the Cowboys. Nicks is a hard-headed mashing blocker. He goes right at defensive players and crushes them.

    Meanwhile, the Cowboys play a zone blocking scheme. Their blocking scheme is sort of complex, although one wouldn't venture to say that it's as difficult to master as quantum physics.

    Nicks might take a while to acclimate to the Cowboys' pass-blocking scheme if the Cowboys sign him. That could make him prone to making mistakes that allow pass-rushers to blow past him.

    One wouldn't want Tony Romo getting hurt because a certain offensive lineman didn't understand what he was supposed to do.

Any Cornerback Jerry Jones Might Overpay

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    The Cowboys have plenty of cornerbacks to consider as free agency approaches. Cortland Finnegan and Brandon Carr are good options. Carr did a great job teaming up with Brandon Flowers to form a solid playmaking duo.

    Finnegan is on the backside of his career but can still play at a high level. He can still keep up with receivers and blow up plays.

    Now, Jerry Jones shouldn't get too excited once he sees the cornerback he wants. To see Jones grab a cornerback and hand him a ton of money would be miserable. After all, the Cowboys have numerous holes to fill.

    While some may believe that today's passing focus in most offenses should cause teams to stock up on cornerbacks, teams shouldn't overvalue the cornerback position.

    Newfangled ideas don't change ultimate truths about the NFL. No matter how the game changes, the defensive line is still a more important group to stock up on than the secondary. That line is the defensive foundation. Every play starts with the potential for a stuff by the line.

    Mistakes in the secondary can be easily prevented by a strong defensive line that rushes the passer well and stops the run.

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