We have sorted the Cowboys restricted free agents into those who are working on long-term deals, those who are not working on new contracts but will be on the team in 2010, those with uncertain futures, and those named Shaun Suisham.
Working On A Long-Term Deal
WR Miles Austin- 1st and 3rd Round Tender $3.168 million
The lack of a long-term deal has many Cowboys fans worried that there is a possibility Austin could be switching uniforms in 2010. Fear not, as the Cowboys’ brass has made signing Miles Austin their number one offseason priority. There is simply no way Austin will be on any team except Dallas for the next few years.
The Cowboys gave Austin a first and third-round tender, meaning other teams are free to sign him to an offer sheet. The Cowboys would then have seven days to match that offer, and we can assure you they will do so, no matter the offer. There are reasons the Cowboys have not been active in free agency, and locking up guys like Austin and Gerald Sensabaugh heads that list.
While Austin is due just over $3 million this year with his tender offer, he will likely be making a lot more. The team is still negotiating with Austin’s agent on a long-term deal, so expect him to be in a Cowboys uniform this season and beyond.
S Gerald Sensabaugh – 2nd Round tender $1.809 million
Sensabaugh’s situation is much like Austin’s. The team is working on a long-term deal with him, although it is improbable that another team would be willing to give up a second round pick to sign Gerald. Thus, there is less urgency to lock up Sensabaugh than there is for Austin. Nonetheless, Sensabaugh will be the starting strong safety for the Cowboys in 2010.
**UPDATE: Sensabaugh reportedly already has three visits set up with other teams, so there apparently is some interest in him. It will be interesting to see if Dallas matches a possible offer or takes the second round pick.
DE Marcus Spears – Original Draft Pick $1.226 million
This tender offer is a bit strange. It is an original draft pick tender, but the Cowboys would receive only a second-round pick should Spears sign with another team. We discussed the possibilities of Spears’ situation in our latest Mailbag. To recap, the team could be:
- assuming no team will yield a second round pick for Spears.
- planning to match any offer another team gives Spears.
- be content accepting a second round pick for losing Spears.
The last scenario is unlikely, so the Cowboys are probably betting that no team is willing to give up a second round pick to sign Spears long-term. Spears will almost certainly be on the team in 2010, but he is probably the most likely of the tendered players to leave via signing long-term with another squad.
Will Be Cowboys in 2010
These players are unlikely to sign long-term deals, but are almost certain to make the squad next season.
DE Stephen Bowen – 2nd Round Tender $1.759 million
Spears is frustrated over his tender offer, and a major reason for his frustration is that Stephen Bowen and our next player, Jason Hatcher, will make more money than him in 2010 as his backups. Bowen recorded a career high in tackles and sacks in 2009, but no team will sign him to an offer sheet.
DE Jason Hatcher – 2nd Round tender $1.759 million
Like Bowen, Hatcher will not be signed by another team. It isn’t that they are not good players, but teams value draft picks so much and will be unwilling to part ways with a second-rounder for a current backup.
A tender offer is no guarantee of a roster spot, and these players may or may not have to find work later in the year.
WR Sam Hurd – 2nd Round Tender $1.759 million
Hurd received a rather high tender offer, so there is no way he will be joining another team anytime soon. Still, if the Cowboys select a wide receiver early in the draft, Hurd’s future could get cloudy.
S Patrick Watkins – Original Draft Pick $1.176 million (Drafted in 5th)
Watkins is a valuable on special teams, but his lack of growth at safety could mean he has played his last down in Dallas.
OT Pat McQuistan- Original Draft Pick $1.176 million (Drafted in 7th)
McQuistan’s future will likely be determined by draft selections. If the team selects multiple tackles and does not release Flozell Adams, McQuistan will be gone.
C Cory Procter – 2nd Round Tender $1.759 million
Procter’s versatility to play both guard and center has kept him around longer than expected.
NT Junior Siavii – Orginal Draft Pick $1.176 million (Drafted in 2nd by Kansas City)
Like McQuistan, Siavii’s future will be determined by draft picks. He benefits from lack of depth at nose tackle.
CB Cletis Gordon – Not Tendered, but signed to a one-year deal for the $630,000 minimum
There have actually been rumors that Gordon could make the 53-man roster as a returner. That may affect the Cowboys’ draft day philosophy.
C Duke Preston – Original Draft Pick $1.226 million (Drafted 4th by Buffalo)
Despite receiving a tender, we would call Preston an underdog in his effort to make the roster.
K Shaun Suisham – No Offer
Shaun Suisham was not tendered and will be on another team in 2010.
The Cowboys have not made a splash in free agency thus far because there is just no need for it. They are working on multiple long-term contracts and saw no reason to overpay for players such as Antrel Rolle or Julius Peppers.
Look for the team to sign a few smaller-name free agents. Jamal Williams is an option as a backup nose tackle, assuming the price is right. The Cowboys have also been rumored to be interested in Colts’ safety Antoine Bethea. Signing him would cost the Cowboys a first round pick, though, so they may be bargaining with Indianapolis to reduce the compensation.
The draft will be a tremendous indicator of which of the players listed above will be on the team in 2010. The selection of a guard/center, for example, would be bad news for Cory Procter and Duke Preston, while drafting a nose tackle would make Junior Siavii a long-shot to make the squad.
For more roster predictions, check out our article “Which Ten Cowboys Will Go?”.