John Phillips is the Cowboys' number two tight end - if they don't go after a veteran free agent down the line.
One of the constants that we keep hearing from Jason Garrett is how he wants competition on the roster. He's been very vocal about the need to bring in competition both after this year's draft and after last year's draft - and really, anywhere in between.
Including Kevin Ogletree, the Cowboys signed eight free agents at the beginning of free agency. Since then, they also brought in CB Taplin-Ross, S Owusu-Ansah, P , QB Carpenter and FB Greenhouse, upping their free agent total to 13. Add seven draft picks and a small army of college free agents and the Cowboys should have lots of competition at every position.
But do they really?
Obviously, not every college free agent or rookie brought in will compete for a starting job right away. And just as obviously, not every returning starter will compete for his starting job. But Garrett's emphasis on competition got me thinking: Are there positions or position groups where the Cowboys don't currently have serious competition?
I believe there are at least three positions where the competition is either soft or for a backup spot at best.
Safety: Gerald Sensabaugh is the returning starter at strong safety. Barry Church and Danny McCray are great special teamers, but are unlikely to challenge for a starting spot. At free safety, the Cowboys brought in Brodney Pool in free agency, and the only player who could possibly challenge Pool is rookie Matt Johnson. One day after the Cowboys picked Johnson, I wrote a post titled Safety Matt Johnson Will Turn Heads In The NFL. I still believe he will do just that, but I don't think it's realistic to expect the last pick of the fourth round to seriously challenge for a starting spot right away.
Unlike cornerback, where the Cowboys are stacked (I have been praying for a long time that I may one day write 'stacked', 'cornerback' and 'Cowboys' in the same sentence) and the competition will be intense, the two starting safeties will likely go through camp largely unchallenged. That is not necessarily an idea I am very comfortable with.
Tight end: The Cowboys had brought Kellen Davis from the Bears in for a visit, but he ultimately decided to re-sign in Chicago for $6 million over two seasons, and not be the backup for Jason Witten. There were also reports that the Cowboys were interested in TE John Carlson from Seattle, but that interest didn't lead anywhere as Carlson quickly inked a five-year, $25 million deal with the Vikings.
The Cowboys were hot in pursuit of John Carlson from Seattle, but Carlson inked a five-year, $25 million deal with the Vikings. The Cowboys typically carry three TEs on their roster, and even started last season with four. Witten is the man, Phillips will not be pushing him, and neither will Hanna and Bryan push Phillips. Realistically, the competition at TE is between sixth-rounder Hanna and UDFAs Bryan and perhaps Szczerba for the third spot.
The Cowboys cannot be happy with this situation, especially considering Garrett's preference for the two tight end set. Don't be surprised if the Cowboys bring in a veteran tight end, even if they have to wait until final roster cuts end August to get their guy.
Tackle: The Cowboys are in a great position with Tyron Smith and Doug Free. But after that? Many depth charts show Jermey Parnell manning the backup spot for left and right tackle. Parnell may be a Tyron Smith lookalike, but that doesn't mean he's also a playalike. After Parnell, it's a bunch of college free agents battling for a roster spot.
I realize of course that complaining about competition at the tackle spot sounds is a little like complaining about the size of the trunk in a Porsche, but there really isn't any notable competition at the tackle spot - unlike the interior offensive line, where two free agents will compete with four returning guys (Arkin, Costa, Nagy, Kowalski) and a couple of promising rookies (Leary, Gunn) for three spots.
Unlike tight end though, I don't see the Cowboys bringing in anybody at tackle. But in fairness, I'm much less worried about competition at this spot, and much more worried about the depth in case of injury to one of the two starters.
Where do you see the team not having enough competition?