As the last few regime changes have shown us, there's a high probability that Kiffin and Marinelli will want to bring in some players with experience in their system to assist in the transition to the "Dallas 2". Parcells, Phillips, and Ryan all at least attempted to employ this strategy with varying degrees of success, but the one common theme I noticed is they tended to look for older players who they hoped could still fill a role. This pattern, along with comments from the likes of Broaddus indicating the Cowboys have zero interest in Melton (not to mention our cap situation) likely rules out any "splash" signings who have ties to our new coaches, which means you can probably forget about Cliff Avril as well. As such, I've compiled a list of players with ties to Kiffin and/or Marinelli who have enough experience to help install the new system, but also appear to have enough tread left on their tires to at least fill a specialist role for another 1-2 years. With the sheer volume of free agents, I likely missed a few potential targets, but here is what I've compiled thus far. I also only focused on players with NFL ties to Kiffin or Marinelli, so I may have missed some Tenn/USC players with Kiffin ties.
Disclaimer: I did not study any tape for these potential targets (aside from what I witnessed during the season), so any evaluation is done solely on the stats and scores provided by PFF.
Potential DL Targets:
For lack of a better word, the Cowboys have what could be deemed a clusterf*#k along the defensive line with their current personnel. They have a handful of players who could potentially fill any number of roles along the line. Ratliff, if kept, could be plugged into the 3 or 1 technique, Hatcher and Crawford could possibly play either the 3 technique or the weak-side DE, and Lissemore/Bass might be serviceable as the 1 technique. Of the current roster candidates, Price is the wildcard in my eyes. If he has fully recovered from his radical surgery, he could very well be our answer at the 3 technique, but those seem to be long odds. If the team elects to give the DL some time to figure itself out, they could opt for a stop-gap solution or two while doing so.
While he's on the wrong side of 30, Idonije had a very productive season for the Bears. His 10.1 PRP score was 10th best in the league amongst Defensive Ends. If the Cowboys elect to let Spencer go and choose not to spend a premium draft pick on DE, I can see the team making a run at Idonije for a season or two while giving Tyrone Crawford time to develop without putting too much pressure on him to be a 3-down player. While he shines in pass-rushing situations, he was far from a liability in run situations, so there's possibly some short-term upside in picking him up.
Amobi Okeye DT
At best, Okeye looks to be a fringe player, but his familiarity with our new system, as well as his age make him a low-risk prospect. He doesn't appear to offer much in the way of pass rushing, but his run- stopping grade could make him a viable fit as a rotational DT at the 1 technique if the team elects to ignore this position in the draft.
Potential LB Targets:
I don't know about anyone else, but one of the first things I started drooling over once Kiffin was hired was the thought of Bruce Carter and Sean Lee manning 2 of the 3 LB positions on our starting D. Their potential in the new system give me a massive stiffy, if I do say so myself. That's all well and good, but we have nothing but question marks behind them from my perspective. Albright/Wilbur may very well excel in the SLB role, but we just don't know how either will play out at this point. Beyond that, we also have depth issues to consider given the fragility both Lee and Carter have shown thus far. Don't get me wrong, I think both guys are pure studs, and I think Carter may actually prove to be the superior player when it's all said and done. That's saying a lot given what Lee has shown in his short time in the league.
Ernie Sims LB
I have to say I was relatively impressed with how well Sims was able to make an immediate contribution to our D this past season after he was picked up off the streets. Whether this was due to Sims himself or Eberflus "coaching him up" is hard to say, but he did seem to wear out as the season went along. That could easily be attributed to the fact that he didn't go through training camp, etc. Either way, I'd like to see the team sign him to a reasonable contract to provide depth behind both Lee and Carter. Marinelli himself once compared Sims to Derrick Brooks, so he clearly saw serious potential in the guy at some point.
I'm sure everyone reading this is at least somewhat familiar with the exceptional resume of Urlacher, so I won't bore you with what he could bring to the locker room. While he is way past his prime, the amount of knowledge and experience he could impart on Sean Lee could very well push him from the brink of greatness to an All-Pro level. That being said, I think Urlacher wearing another uniform is a long shot, barring a Marinelli like personal loyalty decision.
Nick Roach LB
Roach has played the SLB position historically, but he also filled in for Urlacher this past season once he went down. If you exclude the Houston game, as well as his first game at MLB this past season, he was a serviceable LB for the Bears. Having the versatility to play multiple spots may make him attractive to the coaching staff while they figure out what Wilbur and Albright have to offer.
Geno Hayes LB
At only 25 years of age, Hayes still has some upside to him, but you'd be hard pressed to expect anything more than a backup to Carter out of him. Aside from his familiarity with the system, there isn't much to say about him.
Potential DB Targets:
Many others have postulated about the fit of our current starting Corners for the "Dallas 2", so I won't delve into that argument, other than to say that I think Carr and Claiborne will have very little trouble adjusting to the new system. I do have serious reservations about our current Safeties however, and I'm far from alone in that assessment. The Cowboys could elect to leverage the future by renegotiating the contracts necessary to go after Byrd or to a lesser extent, Delmas (assuming neither get franchised), or they could elect to spend a premium pick on Vaccaro, Cyprien, or Elam. Personally, I think they'd be best served by plugging in a stop-gap guy for a year while seeing how Matt Johnson develops. I also really want the team to take a late-round gamble on Boyett from Oregon, but that's another story.
Ronde Barber S/CB
I've quietly been hoping the Cowboys find a way to convince Barber to stick around for another year AND leave Tampa Bay to assist in the transition to our new scheme. I have no idea if Barber has any coaching aspirations once he finally retires; however, if he does, moving to Dallas would likely be in his best interest. Reuniting with Kiffin for one last hurrah before ending his illustrious career could conceivably make for a smooth transition into coaching, if he so desires. You can count me among the many here who hope Matt Johnson proves to be the stud Safety his college tape hints at, and who better to show him the ins and outs of the Tampa 2 than Barber? I know many will look at his age and dismiss the notion; however, he seems to have found the fountain of youth this past season. Across the board, his numbers were up from the previous season, which simply isn't supposed to happen at his age.
DJ Moore CB
Moore is probably best remembered around here for picking off a couple of Romo passes back in 2010. His PFF scores over the past couple of years resemble those of Scandrick, which isn't necessarily a knock. I just can't seem him being anything more than a 4th corner, or possibly a back-up FS for us.
In the words of Parcells, this guy just screams JAG. Aside from scheme familiarity, I don't see anything redeeming here.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my second attempt at adding value to our Fanpost section.