Gerald Sensabaugh Released and Anthony Spencer Franchised: Impact on Cowboys Draft?



Last month I blogged about the Dallas Cowboys NFL draft scenario after comments from head coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones. In that blog, I deduced that Dallas would focus on drafting either a safety, guard, or defensive end with their first round pick.

Additional information has surfaced so let’s have a look at what we recently learned and how it may impact the Cowboys draft in April.

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh Released:
Primarily a decision driven by salary cap challenges, Sensabaugh will not be signed which saves the Cowboys $1.4 million in salary cap space. Sensabaugh has been with Dallas since 2009 and his best season with them was 2010 when he had 5 INTs, 2 sacks, and 71 tackles. His productivity in 2012 was dismal and actually the lowest since coming to Dallas, with 0 INTs and 58 tackles. It’s probably time for Dallas to move on from Sensabaugh and I don’t disagree with the move to not sign him, at all.

Safety Danny McCray was recently signed to a one year deal. My take is that he is mostly being kept for his strong performance on special teams and not to help at safety based on his poor play at safety last season.

Draft Impact:
The odds that Dallas will draft a safety just increased. I already speculated that Dallas was interested in Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) and that they should jump on him if he makes it down to 18 where they pick. Now I think they would like to have Vaccaro replace the departing Sensabaugh at the free safety spot.

If they don’t get Vaccaro in the first, Dallas has also shown interest in safety Eric Reid (LSU). They could possibly draft Reid in the second round. Either way, unless Dallas picks up a safety in free agency, which I doubt happens due to the salary cap issues, they will need to put Vaccaro and Reid high on their list of prospects.

DE Anthony Spencer Franchised:
In a rather surprising move, Jerry Jones placed the franchise tag on Spencer again. It means he will receive a guaranteed base salary of $10.6 million in 2013. A long term deal could still be worked out with Spencer as they have until a July 15 deadline, to sign him. A long term deal would ease some salary cap strain.

That’s one possibility and it’s also possible that Jerry could trade Spencer for some draft picks. An interested team would have to assume his franchise salary and give Dallas some draft picks.

Draft Impact:
Earlier I speculated that Dallas wouldn’t sign Spencer and would need to draft a defensive end. Now it looks unlikely that Dallas would draft a DE in the first round but might later in the draft. However if Jerry does trade Spencer, which I think is possible, then Dallas would likely pick a DE early in the draft.

My Take: I didn’t like this move to franchise Spencer but would warm up to it if Dallas can get a couple needed picks in the draft. I think Jerry will offer Spencer as trade bait and if he finds a dance partner, he will add a couple needed draft picks. But if no one wants to dance, then Jerry will sign Spencer to a long term deal before the July 15 deadline.

CB Mike Jenkins may not be back:Word from Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas is that free agent Jenkins is attracting some interest from NFL teams but not the Dallas Cowboys. It’s not likely that Dallas will bring Jenkins back next season.

As I have pontificated before, it’s past time for Dallas to part ways with Jenkins who hasn’t shown much interest in being a Cowboy recently and has disdain for tackling.

Draft Impact: Jenkins was not a starter last season so replacing him will not be a huge priority. I do look for Dallas to draft a CB but in the later rounds (5th or 6th). They should seek a CB that can provide depth in the secondary and also contribute on special teams right away.

Conclusion: As far as offensive line goes, I still think Dallas must look for a guard in the first two rounds. With Sensabaugh being released, I look for Dallas to make drafting a safety a high priority and also a need in the first two rounds. Based on Spencer being franchised, I now don’t look for Dallas to take a DE early however don’t rule out Jerry making an attention getting trade on draft day. You know how Jerry likes the spotlight during the draft.