Dallas Cowboys Free Agency: Keep, Walk or Tag Options for Every Free Agent
The 2014 offseason is officially in full swing for the Dallas Cowboys. Although there are plenty of things to resolve on the agenda list, taking care of its own free agents comes first.
As I discussed in my previous article, the Cowboys have some issues involving their cap space. Not only will they be hard-pressed to scoop up free agents, but they’ll also have some difficulties retaining most of their own.
Free agency is always an exciting time after the season is complete. Even though Jon Kitna is technically a free agent, he will not be in the slideshow because we know he won’t be in the league next season. With that said, let’s take a look at what’s going to happen with the free agents-to-be on Dallas’ roster.
All statistics via Pro-Football-Reference.com unless indicated otherwise.
Dallas signed Waters at the beginning of the season to help solidify its struggling offensive line. The 13-year vet started in only five games before going on the injured reserve.
The Cowboys wouldn’t mind keeping a six-time Pro Bowler on the roster, but he’s another player I don’t think will re-sign.
Waters has the credentials to ask for big money and will probably do so. However, the 36-year-old is too old to warrant any significant contract and won’t be worth the trouble.
Dan Bailey is a must sign free agent for the Cowboys. Special teams is an underrated aspect in football and Bailey is one of Dallas’ best weapons in that department.
The kicker hit 28-of-30 attempts this season including six-of-seven from beyond 50 yards. His percentage of 93.3 percent put him at fourth in the league.
It’s difficult to find consistent kickers in the NFL and the Cowboys have one. There’s no way they let him walk.
Jason Hatcher had an incredible season for the Cowboys. With numerous injuries, he emerged as one of the main captains on the defensive front. Hatcher led the team with 11 sacks in 2013.
The problem the Cowboys are going to have with Hatcher is that he, too, will be asking for more money than they have to spend. The defensive tackle will be 32 years old at the start of next season, so you know he will be trying to sign a big contract now.
I think the best chance the Cowboys have to retain Hatcher is to give him the franchise tag. This way they wouldn’t have to commit a lot of money to the veteran long term, but get to keep one of their better players for at least another season.
Danny McCray is pretty much a one-trick pony. He excels on special teams and that’s about it.
The safety started 10 games in 2012 strictly because of the amount of injuries to the defense. He showed he will never be a regular starter in the NFL at the position.
McCray had only eight total tackles this year. He’s no longer the best special teamer on the roster (Dwayne Harris), so I don’t see Jones offering him a contract.
Ryan Cook didn’t play a snap for the Cowboys in 2013. The veteran center missed the entire year due to a back injury.
Even though Dallas doesn’t have much room to spend, it will be able to afford Cook.
The 6’6”, 330-pound lineman started 12 games in 2012 and looked decent doing so. The Cowboys don’t have much depth on the line so Cook should be someone to keep if the price is right.
Phillip Tanner is another guy who I don’t see being on next year’s roster.
The third-year back isn’t particularly a bad player; he’s just on a team where he can’t showcase his talent. Tanner had only nine carries in 2013.
With three other running backs ahead of him on the depth chart (DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle), I can’t see Dallas paying him this offseason.
Ernie Sims is someone I see Dallas keeping around for at least another year.
Despite his average play, Sims is a cheap player at a position of need for the Cowboys. With the amount of injuries the linebacking corps has sustained the last two seasons, the team needs players it can trust on the bench.
Sims has started 12 games the last two years and cost less than $1 million in 2013. Dallas should bring him back.
Anthony Spencer is probably the most talented Cowboy who will be a free agent. Unfortunately for both sides, I don’t see a deal working between the two.
Spencer missed the majority of the 2013 season when he was required to get surgery on his left knee in September.
Spencer would be the starting defensive end next year, however, he’s simply going to want too much money from the Cowboys. Dallas has avoided giving Spencer a long-term deal the last two seasons by placing the team’s franchise tag on him.
The Cowboys won’t want to pay the rate of a third franchise tag on Spencer (144 percent of the previous figure) so I don’t see any way he’ll be on the roster next year.
Chris Jones is another special-teams player the Cowboys should hang onto. The punter hasn’t been spectacular in his time with Dallas, but he’s gotten the job done.
He ranked in the top ten in punts inside the 20 and his average of 45 yards was less than four yards behind the league leader Marquette King.
The 24-year-old shouldn’t be expensive to hang onto, so expect Jones to stay put.
Jones has never started a game in the NFL over his seven-year career. He simply is a special teams player.
The defensive end only saw time because of the massive amounts of injuries the team had. No matter how cheap it would be to sign Jones, he shouldn’t get a roster spot.
Jarius Wynn played in ten games for the Cowboys this season after starting the year in San Diego. He started two games for the ‘Boys and tallied six tackles with a sack.
The reason I think Dallas will keep Wynn is because of need. The defensive line could potentially be losing both Spencer and Hatcher, while DeMarcus Ware had his worst season of his career.
Dallas will have to address the defensive front in the draft, but signing an inexpensive Wynn will supply some depth.