If free agency ever arrives, the Dallas Cowboys will have to be aggressive in pursuing defensive help. Last year's collapse by that unit was a big issue and the organization, for the most part, ignored it in the draft. Adding Rob Ryan, and his aggressive, attacking scheme of football might help, but it's hard to believe that will be the Cowboys only attempt at solving the problem.
No position was a bigger problem for the Cowboys in 2010 than safety, more specifically free safety. Cornerback-turned-safety-turned-starter Alan Ball certainly wasn't the answer. He's been credited, discredited?, with giving up seven touchdowns in 2010, the tops among safeties. That's not going to get it done. Reports are already out there that he might be returning to the cornerback position this year. But in order for Dallas to do that, they'll need to target some free agents unless they're comfortable turning the job over to the likes of Danny McCray or Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. Both players were helpful on special teams, but I doubt anyone trusts them to be a starter.
Then there's the strong safety position. Starter Gerald Sensabugh has been a steady contributor. The problem is he's a free agent. So question number one becomes - do they re-sign Sensabaugh. In my estimation they should make every effort to do so. Sensabaugh put up some pretty decent numbers in 2010 even thoguh he missed a couple of games with injury. He had five interceptions, which is actually a pretty remarkable number from the safety spot. He also chipped in with a couple of sacks and had 57 solo tackles. He's a guy that might greatly benefit from having decent help at free safety, allowing coordinator Rob Ryan to move him around more and get him in "attack mode". To read a little about Sensabaugh and his college days, go here.
If the reports are true, the Cowboys might already have someone in mind to pair with Sensabaugh, assuming they re-sign him. Whenever you get a new coach or coordinator, you always need to look at their past history to find guys they've worked with before, and who might fit with their new team. That's already happened as Pro Football Weekly reported a few weeks ago.
We have heard for months that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has targeted some veterans to go after, players who will fit his scheme, and it only makes sense to think that former Raiders S Michael Huff could be one of them. Ryan coached Huff when the two were in Oakland together a few years back. Sources say Ryan has Jerry Jones' ear and that the owner will target a veteran of his choosing at the position.
Huff had a very good 2010, putting together three interceptions along with four sacks, also contributing 67 tackles and 17 assists. A defensive secondary duo of Huff and Sensabaugh could be just what Dallas needs.
If not Huff, then who?
The mothership recently brought up the name Quintin Mikell from the hated Eagles. The Eagles recently drafted a safety in the second round, so there's speculation they might not want Mikell back. Mikell plays strong safety, but the article suggests that Sensabaugh could be moved to free safety with Mikell manning the strong safety spot.
Where Would He Fit: The good thing about the Cowboys trying to re-sign Gerald Sensabaugh, is that it doesn't prevent them from signing any other free-agent safety, such as another strong safety like Mikell. Sensabaugh's versatility is rather valuable because he could play free safety if the Cowboys needed that. So once free agency starts, the Cowboys could reasonably go after any available safety, regardless of his position. If the Cowboys signed Mikell, he could be plugged in at strong safety and the Cowboys would then either look to re-sign Sensabaugh or another natural free safety to play alongside him.
They could also go after an ex-Cowboy who played under Rob Ryan in Cleveland, Abram Elam. Elam is also scheduled to be a free agent, whenever the NFL gets a labor agreement done. Other prominent safeties, both free and strong, are Eric Weddle, Bernard Pollard, Roman Harper, Dawan Landry and Atari Bigby, among others.
So, should the cowboys go all out to re-sign Gerald Sensabaugh? Who among the free agent pool of safeties makes the most sense for the Cowboys?