Dallas Cowboys Make Room for Will Allen; Key Now Is to Ensure He Doesn't Start

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMarch 27, 2013

October 28, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Will Allen (26) reacts on the field against the Washington Redskins during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 27-12. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In a perfect world, the Dallas Cowboys would be adding veteran safety Will Allen for depth. The 30-year-old has been a backup in eight of his nine seasons, with 17 spot starts sprinkled around a full season in the starting lineup with the 2006 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (after the departure of Dexter Jackson).

However, because the Cowboys had to move mountains in order to free up cap space merely to sign Allen today (per ESPNDallas.com), it's fair to guess that the former Buccaneer and Steeler will have an inside track to start alongside Barry Church. 

I think the Cowboys could be attracted to Allen's versatility and his familiarity with Monte Kiffin's scheme. Not only does he bring some much-needed experience to the safety corps, but he's spent plenty of time as both a strong safety and a free safety. He started seven games at strong safety in place of the injured Troy Polamalu and the benched Ryan Mundy in 2012. 

With zero career sacks and no interceptions since 2005, he's not a guy who stands out. But the 2004 fourth-round draft pick is decent in coverage and run defense and spent the first five years of his career playing for Kiffin's defense in Tampa. 

Again, I'm all for signing aging personal favorites when you're simply filling out the roster, but unfortunately for Dallas, this is more than that. This might mean Allen is in the starting lineup in Week 1, because there's no telling if 2012 fourth-round pick Matt Johnson is ready for such a role, let alone if he can stay healthy long enough to earn it. 

Cowboys fans can only hope that such a move doesn't cause the team to remove emphasis from the safety position in the draft. This remains Dallas' weakest spot on defense, and the Cowboys have to find a starting-caliber free safety immediately on April 25 or 26.

Give the 'Boys credit for finally adding some experience on defense, but the incentive now has to be to draft well enough to ensure that a scrap piece like Allen serves only as an insurance policy from the get-go.