Everyone knows FS is a major need for the Cowboys heading into 2011, the question is: how should we address it? The only free agents we KNOW we'll get a shot at are Atogwe, Wilson, and Sanders due to the CBA issues. Now, IMO Atogwe is the only one worth considering. Sanders is injury prone and although he may come discounted because of this, every one is saying just that - lets get a good, possibly great player on the cheap, leading to me think he won't end up being as cheap as once thought. Wilson just sucks balls, almost Alan Balls. Also, this isn't a great draft class of safetys, and it's debatable whether any of them will be able to come in and play effectively for us in their first season. Which leads me to Atogwe -
Factor 1: Ability
Over the last three years he has rated (according to PFF.com) 53rd, 31st, and 15th. Over that period his run defence ranking was -5.2, -2.4, and 1.7, also showing steady progression. His pass D grades were 1.3, 0, and -0.3. Not stellar, but most FS's aren't as they just keep the ball in front of them, which he appears to for the most part. Overall I would say he's a solid player, but not amazing.
Factor 2: Age
In June this year OJ will turn 31, somewhat old but not too old for a FS IMO. I would say he has a few years of play left before his body starts to rapidly decline.
Factor 3: Durability
OJ has started at S for the Rams for five years, only missing four games in 2009. Durability is not a concern.
Factor 4: The Penchant For Turnovers
In five years OJ has 21 INT's, and 16 FF's. That is a rate of about 4 INT's a year and 3 FF's. That is decent, but I don't think these numbers are great and the rumour that he is a turnover machine I think is overblown.
Factor 5: Price
As a free agent of a moderate age, good durability, and a well respected level of play, I think OJ will command a pretty decent price. But with many years of play at a consistent level I don't think he'll pull a Ken Hamlin on us. But ultimately he will cost enough that we will have to commit for at least a year if not more and would be somewhat of a progress stopper.
Factor 6: Alternatives
Other options the Cowboys could look at to upgrade the play of the safety position include hoping there is a free agency and pursuing players such as Quentin Mikell, Michael Huff and Eric Weddle. Also they could go into the draft with plans to draft a safety in the first two rounds eg Ahmad Black. Or they could look to players already on the roster, most likely AOA, or hope from progression from Alan Ball.
IMO the Cowboys should sign OJ to a deal and enter the season knowing they have a solid player at the FS position. If they feel confident there will be a free agency (something I am not sure of, but I am not the most knowledgeable on the CBA) I think they will be better off waiting for that and signing a premier young FS if they do not get a S in the first two rounds of the draft. For those who want AOA to start at FS this year, I simply do not feel comfortable entering the season with an unproven option in line to start with no backup plan, but again, this is something the Cowboys will know more about than me (they have seen AOA in every practice he's participated in).