A look at the Dallas Cowboys free agents and whether the Cowboys should resign or just move on?
Anthony Spencer, OLB (6 years): Let’s start with the biggest name on the list of free agents. Spencer certainly had the best year of his career in 2012 with 11 sacks and a trip to the pro bowl. The Cowboys are transitioning to a 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin so Spencer would have to play defensive end. Spencer played DE at Purdue and is probably capable of successfully making the change and he seems open to that change too.
Dallas certainly seems interested in keeping Spencer if possible. If they franchise him again this year, he will be due $10.6 million. Spencer had a monster season last year but was that a one hit wonder? Is he worth what it will take to sign him as a free agent?
My Take: This one is a tough call. But I would not resign Spencer because,
a) I tend to think Spencer played for a contract in 2012, and will go back to the old, unproductive Spencer after getting paid.
b) With a new 4-3 defense, there is no guarantee that you are putting money in a guy that can make that transition.
c) I think Dallas can land a very good 4-3 DE in the draft that will cost far less money to a team with enough cap issues.
The all pro season Spencer had just made him too expensive to keep for Dallas, so I’m afraid it’s time to….
Kevin Ogletree, WR (4 years): Ogletree in Dallas can probably be summed up in one word. “Disappointing”. Last year he became the starting WR and had a break out game in the opener against the Giants (114 yards, 2 TDs). After that, not so much with only 2 TDs the rest of the season. Dwayne Harris has come on strong and brings special teams skills that Ogletree doesn’t display. Last year I felt Harris should have been given more opportunities and less play time for Ogletree.
My Take: For me, I have seen enough of Ogletree and feel that he has been given more chances to prove he can be a WR with Dallas than a cat with nine lives. With Harris and the emergence of Cole Beasley last year, it’s time to…
Felix Jones, RB (5 years): Felix was a player to get excited about when he entered the league but he his productivity has fallen off with injuries. By far his best game last year was 92 yards against the Ravens in relief of an injured Murray. He finished the season with a 3.6 average per run. That’s the lowest average of his career and down from 4.5 last season. Once known as a break away threat, this season Felix’s longest run was just 22 yards.
My Take: In the 2012 preseason, Jones failed his conditioning test which to me, could be a major red flag that this horse has run all he can run. Last season, undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar showed he can provide depth at RB and he has explosiveness. Considering the declining productivity and the history of injuries for Felix Jones, it’s time for Dallas to just…
Mike Jenkins, CB (5 years): Last season Jenkins wanted his new contract done before the season started which was after he had shoulder surgery in the off season. (Hey Mike, Jerry is crazy but he isn’t that crazy.) Jerry Jones wanted Mike to play out the last year of his contract which Jenkins reluctantly did. However Jenkins chose not to attend rehab in Dallas or workouts before the season began. Jenkins seemed to feel a little dissed after Jerry signed CB Brandon Carr in free agency then traded up to get CB Morris Claiborne in the draft. As expected, by me at least, Jenkins was not very good last season as he earned an unimpressive (-7.0) grade from PFF.
My Take: Mike Jenkins is going to want to be a starting CB in the NFL and want a starter’s contract too. That’s not happening in Dallas so it’s time for both sides to just…
Phil Costa, center (3 years): Due to injuries, Costa played only about 6 quarters in all of the 2012 season. In 2011, he had a tough year. When he did play last year, he appeared to be the best option at center that Dallas currently has available.
MY Take: The Cowboys would be wise to upgrade at center either through the draft or free agency. The Cowboys do seem to like Costa and he represents their best option over Ryan Cook. Costa is not likely to be a long term solution at center but for now, he is the solution. I look for Jerry to resign him so in this case,…
RESIGN HIM *(only if agrees to less money and one year deal)
Danny McCray, safety (3 years): A backup, Danny was forced into action at safety last season when Barry Church went out with a season ending injury. How that go? According to my eyes, and Pro Football Focus who gave McCray a low (-5.9) rating, not too good. In fact, McCray allowed the most first downs and TDs passing (22 combined) than any other safety in the NFL according to PFF. Now McCray is thought to be a solid special teams performer but his performance at safety should tell Dallas they need to add depth at safety in the draft.
My Take: McCray may indeed be a special teams ace, but the PFF stat of first downs and TDs allowed in 2012 doesn’t lie, so McCray it’s time to just..
Kenyon Coleman, DE (11 years): Coleman only played in 7 games last year after a torn triceps and a knee injury. In his two years with the Cowboys, he has just one sack. He was primarily brought in by Rob Ryan to help defend the run in a 3-4 defense. The Cowboys are in need of a youth movement on the defensive line as Coleman will turn 34 in April.
My Take: Coleman has seen his better years in the NFL and was brought in by Rob Ryan to play in a 3-4 defense. Since Ryan and the 3-4 defense are now gone, it’s time for Coleman to just…
Victor Butler, OLB (4 years): Butler has been a very consistant player in his career providing about 3 sacks and 25 tackles per season. Moving to the 4-3 creates a dilemma because Butler is a prototype OLB in a 3-4 defense. I think it’s possible that Butler could learn to play the weak side LB known as “Will” LB in a 4-3 defense but I can’t see him as a DE.
My Take: I like Butler and think he has some good football in front of him but with the new 4-3 defense, it’s difficult to picture him staying with Dallas. Because of that, it would probably be best to let Butler see who needs a 3-4 OLB so he can thrive and I’m afraid that means, both sides have to…
John Phillips, TE (4 years): In 2012 Phillips productivity was basically cut in half, compared to previous years, as it appears he shared time with talented rookie TE James Hanna. I look for Hanna to be used even more in the future in the passing game, but with Witten not quite as healthy, depth is needed at the TE position.
My Take: Phillips is a solid all around TE that doesn’t provide as much of a pass threat as Hanna but probably a more effective blocker. The Cowboys will need the depth Phillips provides so…
Conclusion: The Cowboys need to get younger at several positions and they do have salary cap challenges. Jerry, the GM, must stop paying players who are past their prime and release players no longer productive. When it comes to these guys, just move on.