Now that Dallas has missed yet another golden opportunity to win the NFC East and make the playoffs, it’s time to determine which free agents Dallas needs to sign and who they may have to part ways with. This is the time of the year where Jerry Jones makes bone head decisions that put him deeper in the salary cap abyss as he tends to hold on to expensive players for too long.
ESPN reports that Dallas is expected to be about $31 million over the salary cap in 2014 with the next closest team in spend not even close. It includes almost $7 million tied up in Jay Ratliff who they let go. Proving once again, their GM (or let’s just refer to him as the rich oil man) Jerry Jones, can out spend his competition and still have little to show for it.
With those salary cap issues in mind, let’s take a look at who Dallas should keep and who they won’t be able to.
DE Anthony Spencer– Last season Jerry used the franchise tag ($9.6 million) on Spencer to keep him as a Cowboy but Spencer only played in one game the entire season getting in on a couple tackles in the loss to the Chiefs as knee surgery ended his season. Back in the 2012 season, Spencer had his best of his career by far, as he was named to the pro Bowl.
MOVE ON: In the case of Spencer, I believe Jerry will not be able to sign Spencer for the amount of money he and his agent want. And even if Jerry is crazy enough to try to, and you can’t put it past him, I think it is simply a bad idea. While Spencer had a good season in 2012 in a 3-4 defense, no one knows how he will play as a DE in the 4-3 defense. Also coming off of knee surgery should be a big concern too as Spencer turns 30 in just a few weeks.
The Cowboys were fortunate to find free agent DE George Selvie who had 45 tackles and 7 sacks last season, and should just move on from Spencer. Spencer was able to take Jerry for a nice ride last season, but the salary cap issues may not allow Jerry to do it again.
DT Jason Hatcher– This season Hatcher was the most consistent defensive lineman the Cowboys had. He was quite productive with 41 tackles, 11 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Two of those sacks came in the last game against the Eagles. It represents Hatcher’s best season of his 8 year career and it could be argued Hatcher was playing for a contract this season.
Sign him with a caveat(if possible): In the case of Hatcher, it may appear obvious that he needs to be resigned but it may not be that simple. If other teams show interest, it could make him become pretty expensive for a 31 year old DT. This is one where Jerry needs to be careful but in the past, he has gotten this wrong more often than right. Just look back to how Ratliff played Jerry.
With Dallas so over the salary cap, I’m not so sure they can afford to resign Hatcher. May be forced to move on.
Guard Brian Waters: Signed to a 1 year deal out of desperation this season and he actually played well while his 36 year old body lasted. Waters played 7 games (started 5) which is about 6 more games than I thought he would hold up. He hasn’t had surgery yet on his torn triceps and recently said he hasn’t decided what he will do. Waters doesn’t do preseason camps so don’t look for the codger to make any urgent moves to get ready to play.
Move On: While Dallas needs a good guard in a big way, Waters doesn’t represent any answers for the future. It was a spare tire that Jerry reached for early in the season after failing to draft a guard. Don’t get me wrong, Waters was a fine guard years ago but this idea is done.
Safety Danny McCray: The Cowboys found out in 2012 that McCray couldn’t be counted on to help them at safety and he was primarily kept as a special teams ace. But last season was his least productive season by far as he only had 8 tackles.
Move On: Rookie JJ Wilcox has shown promise at safety and the Cowboys found a decent prospect in Heath who played special teams too. I just don’t see Dallas signing McCray this time. I think they have to move on here.
Kicker Dan Bailey: Bailey has proven to be a very reliable NFL kicker which is a valuable thing. Last season he successfully made 28 of 30 FGs. He also handles the kickoff duties and is capable of getting no returns with his deep kicks.
Sign him: Bailey is actually a restricted free agent which I think makes it even more likely that Dallas will get him signed. Over the cap or not, Jerry has to get Bailey signed.