Stay, Tag, Walk: Breaking Down Each of the Dallas Cowboys' 2013 Free Agents
The Cowboys are facing a crucial offseason in which they will lose a heavy number of players.
With a limited cap situation, the Cowboys will have to be choosy with who they retain and who they let go.
Key players like Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, and Anthony Spencer don’t necessarily become locks. It’s time for a change in the franchise, and that will likely mean the departure of key players through free agency and trades.
Expect the unexpected this season. For fun, let’s go through all the free agents the Cowboys have and decide if they should stay, walk, or be tagged.
Felix Jones: Walk
Felix Jones had an admirable season for the Cowboys. In 16 games, Jones recorded 111 carries for 402 yards and three touchdowns. He also logged 25 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield.
That’s not a bad set of statistics for a backup running back.
Unfortunately, that is all Jones is, a backup running back. To be precise, he’s a change-of-pace back.
Jones has been productive but also vastly unreliable. Oft-injured Jones has become a bit of a liability spelling the other injury-prone running back DeMarco Murray.
The Cowboys feature a balanced offense and need consistent productivity from the running back position. Jones has talent, but his past seems to suggest that he can’t be a true No. 2 back.
Victor Butler: Walk
Victor Butler was once considered a viable future replacement for DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer.
Sadly, he’s not even close.
Butler has hardly shown any signs of progression. He contributed 25 tackles and three sacks in 16 games. Not a horrible season output, but considering the player he was expected to develop into, there is some disappointment.
Butler saw snaps decrease to the likes of Alex Albright, and I believe that's the direction that the organization is heading. Albright is a more complete linebacker and can do everything decently.
Butler’s lack of development within the past four years will likely cost him his future as a Cowboy. There just isn’t room for pure pass-rushers that can’t make plays consistently.
Derrick Dockery: Walk
Sometimes you have to see the end of the road. This is the end of the road in the NFL for Dockery.
Dockery was a serviceable player in his career and has served on the Cowboys as a valuable depth player.
At this point though, Dockery just doesn’t have a place on this roster.
You can’t justify spending money on a player who is old and unable. Dockery has no practical use for the Cowboys, who are trying to get younger and more talented on the offensive line.
I’m sure Dockery is a good guy and he’s a had a decent career.
It might be time to hang it all up now.
Eric Frampton: Sign
Frampton came into a depleted Cowboys defense and proved that he is a versatile player who can be a great utility man.
Frampton came right in and showed that he could play both the cornerback and safety positions.
Frampton isn’t a player who projects as a starter, but he was very effective on special teams. The combination of his special teams play and his ability to play in dime packages makes him a good candidate as a depth player for this defense.
Mike Jenkins: Walk
Mike Jenkins is a player who I thought really got the shaft by the drafting of Morris Claiborne and the acquisition of Brandon Carr.
Then he held out and complained about his situation.
My sympathy began to waver for Mike Jenkins rather quickly. While he’s a good man-to-man corner who has played injured for the Cowboys and his value is apparent, he doesn’t have a spot on this team.
Jenkins wants a fair opportunity to start—an opportunity he won’t get in Dallas.
Claiborne and Carr have a lock as starters for many years to come. The Cowboys proved that by spending big money to land them.
The best situation for Jenkins is to move on to a team that wants him.
John Phillips: Sign
Phillips is a guy who is built in the same mold as Jason Witten; he can do everything decently but doesn’t have a particular strength.
What I like most about Phillips is that he's a guy who isn’t afraid to block. He fits the Cowboys' scheme because he’s dangerous in both aspects of the game.
It is likely that Phillips would return as the third tight end behind James Hanna, who has emerged as a legitimate offensive playmaker. Phillips' demotion shouldn't be taken as too harsh, though, because he would likely still be used in two-tight-end packages often.
Phillips offers you cheap tight-end depth and could produce in the absence of Jason Witten.
Ernie Sims: Sign
Ernie Sims! You sir, have been a total blessing to this defense.
Sims walked onto this team looking for an opportunity to play, and he played extremely well. In the wake of injuries to Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, Sims was called upon to hold this defense together.
He did, and thrived doing so.
Sims is an athletic linebacker who is also very good in pursuit. He isn’t a liability while covering tight ends or the flats and can come up big against the run. He isn’t a Pro Bowler by any means, but he’s a tough guy who leaves it all on the field.
There is always room for a guy like that on your team.
Kevin Ogletree: Walk
Ogletree blew up by posting huge numbers at the beginning of the season against the New York Giants.
Then he disappeared completely.
Ogletree isn’t consistent enough to get a contract. He has the talent, but he isn’t going to make the plays needed to keep this offense moving.
Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley have started to emerge towards the end of the season.
Ogletree can only watch his snaps decrease, and he simply doesn’t have a role on this team that would warrant a contract.
Anthony Spencer: Wild Card
Spencer had a fantastic season.
He has proved to be among the better linebackers in this league and deserves a lucrative contract.
The problem remains that the Cowboys are limited in cap space.
The Cowboys are clearly headed in a different direction on defense. If they commit to the 4-3, then Spencer really becomes more of a luxury then a necessity.
If the Cowboys can find a way to keep him, then they should.
If I’m Jerry Jones, I’m exploring this opportunity, but I’m not risking the future cap situation of this team on making this one move happen.
The Late Replacements: Walk
Brian Moorman - Walk
Moorman was a valuable replacement for the injured Chris Jones. The Cowboys are committed to Jones moving forward and Moorman will likely move on.
Charlie Peprah - Walk
Peprah was a liability in coverage and isn’t the player he was during his tenure with Green Bay.
Brady Poppinga - Walk
Popping is a solid player with decent ability. However, the Cowboys are limited in cap and don’t have room for his age and small production projection.
Brian Schaefering - Walk
While it’s hard to find defensive lineman who can provide reliable depth production, the Cowboys are going in a young direction with their line. Schaefering won’t be invited.