Aside from Roy Williams everyone’s favorite whipping boy this off-season is Ken Hamlin. So much so that acquiring a safety is looked at by many as priority number one. I disagree to a certain extent. I agree that we should take a safety early if there is value. Thomas at 27, Allen at 59, or Burnett in the 3rd would be excellent. I also like Atogwe or Bethea but only if: Ken is cut AND Atogwe is signed for a short 1 to 3 yr deal OR we get a good deal for Bethea (good deal = not our 1st round pick and at most 5 mil a year). Aside from those unlikely situations I say pass on a safety all together. I think we are exaggerating the need. Here’s my rationale:
This year Ball, M. Hamlin, and Sensa performed well and showed lots of upside. It is conceivable that Ball and M. Hamlin could push for a starting position soon and we may not have seen the best of Sensa. Why stunt that development and why waste a high pick when skilled youth is already in house?
K. Hamlin is an excellent stop gap, if a stop gap is even needed, for our young safeties. He is still relatively young and is not far removed from some very productive years. He plays better when his job is on the line and it certainly is move it or lose it time for him.
CB is a much greater need at this point and a more important position to stock depth. We have 3 quality CBs but after that nothing. It be a long shot for anyone but Thomas to beat out Ball, so most likely we are talking about a 4th string safety if one is drafted. A 4th string CB sees the field much more than the 4th safety.
Keeping 5 safeties would be a wasted roster spot. Drafting a safety either forces us to cut M. Hamlin or keep 5 safeties. Who is ready to cut M. Hamlin? What is the need for a 5th safety? That spot would better serve the Cowboys on the OL, DL, or at the LB position. Even a 4th RB would be better than a 5th safety.
Do we really need to be so hasty to cut K. Hamlin? I know “Cut K. Hamlin” is an argument one may use to tear down the last two roster spot arguments, but aside form Atogwe, Bethea or Thomas, who can replace K. Hamlin? I am not willing to gamble on Ball or M. Hamlin without having Ken as a security blanket.
We need to keep an eye on our team salary. Ken is useful because he can save the Cowboys money if the salary cap ever comes back. He can be cut in 2011 and save the Cowboys about 3 mil. Signing someone like Bethea or Atogwe to a long term deal will only help to swell our league high 153 million dollar salary and quickly assist us on our way to salary cap hell. Hence the reason I am adamant about acquiring those players only under the above circumstances.
Lastly, I feel it too. I also think that the Boys are great safety play away from having an elite level D. But unless Thomas falls, that is not gonna happen this year. A cheap Bethea or Atogwe is most likely a pipe dream. Who knows, maybe Ball or (dare I say it!) Ken raise their level of play next year and we get a dominant D in the easiest most convenient way possible. So stop worrying and leave safety off your off-season wish list.