Todd Archer yesterday in the DMN blog brought up the interesting notion of franchising safety Ken Hamlin. This is actually such an intriguing notion that I cannot believe this scenario has yet to be talked about. Much of the conversation and speculation around the possibilities of a Cowboys franchise player has been focused on Flozell Adams and it seems one of the team's most important contributors in 2007 has been overlooked.
While the Dallas Cowboys secondary once again performed at a less than stellar level in 2007 the defensive backfield showed definitive improvement with the arrival of Ken Hamlin. With the exception of the first defensive series of the season against New York, gone were the big pass plays over the top that plagued the secondary in previous years as Hamlin stepped in as the quarterback of the defense and provided excellent range downfield. The value he brings to the secondary should not be discounted and letting Hamlin walk in free agency would be a huge step back on the road back to the playoffs. Finding an outside replacement would be either more expensive than keeping Hamlin or would be a player that is unable to play at his caliber. Within the organization itself Patrick Watkins and the young Courtney Brown have yet to show they have the ability to step in full time, although Watkins has shown marked improvement since his shaky rookie season.
Ken Hamlin has stated in no certain terms that while he enjoys playing for the Cowboys, if another team comes calling with a large payday chances are he will not be in Dallas next season. Hamlin was signed for a steal this past season as he came in a large question mark due to injury concerns and resigning him to a long term contract might cost the Cowboys more than they are willing to pay. Yet the franchise tag sits out there waiting to be used and who better to spend it on than the defensive quarterback? At $4.3 Million (the franchise tag for safeties) the Cowboys would have secured for themselves a Pro Bowl player and Hamlin would be paid nearly twice the amount of his salary in 2007. This would stem the possibility of having to fill another hole this offseason while giving the two sides time to work out a contract during the season. The cap hit is more than half of what it would cost to franchise Flozell Adams and would give the Cowboys plenty of room to work on addressing more pressing needs in the draft and free agency.
Of course this all hinges on whether the Cowboys are looking to bring Adams back and how much he would be looking to make over the next couple of years. I am of the opinion that the franchise tag for left tackles ($9 Million) is way more than Flozell is worth, and might be more than he is looking to make. Of course Adams may think differently and opt to tempt his fate in the free agent market. Adams is also nearing the end of his career and while he shut down the game's top defensive ends this season, a long term deal might not be what the Cowboys are looking for. Grizz sums up the difficult situation in this post. The hole left by the departure of Hamlin might be more difficult to fill than the one left if Flozell departs, yet both positions are extremely important to the success of the Cowboys and hopefully Jerry will find a way to keep both if the price is right.
The Star-Telegram talks briefly about Flozell Adams' Pro Bowl bonus as he waits for the Cowboys to act.
Left Tackle Flozell Adams received a $500,000 bonus for making the Pro Bowl. He was the only one of the 13 Cowboys who played in Sunday's game to have a Pro Bowl incentive in his contract
The Cowboys have until February 21 to make a decision on which player, if any, to franchise for 2008.
I received a few emails today regarding my post that stated the Cowboys will be projected to be $20.6 Million under the salary cap for the 2008 season. The confusion comes because it seems Todd Archer at the Dallas Morning News is stating the Cowboys will be just $10 Million under. I make no claims at being a capologist and I scoured the Net for specific info on official cap space. I found a few sites, here and here, that have the same information and until I hear something definitive or official I will stick with $20.6. Also take into mind that figure was tabulated prior to Crayton's contract signing.