Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys will assuredly have a different starting safety combination for the third season in a row.
In a move to save some salary cap space, Dallas has moved away from a player that has started in their defensive secondary over the last four seasons. Gerald Sensabaugh was released today, per Gil Brandt, Dallas' former VP of Player Personnel and currently with NFL.com.
Cowboys just cut Gerald Sensabaugh. They'll save approx. $1.4M— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) March 4, 2013
Sensabaugh was signed by the Cowboys back in 2009, signing a one-year offer. He played under one-year deals for the majority of three seasons before Dallas gave him a five-year deal worth $22.5 million near the end of the 2011 season. That deal has now come to an end as Dallas looks to move in a different direction at their safety spot.
Gerald's base salary was set to be $3 million and with $2.4 million left to be prorated over three years from his signing bonus he would have cost $3.8 million against the '13 cap. That leaves the savings at $1.4 million as mentioned above.
Much has been made as to the type of safety that Dallas will need in order to play Monte Kiffin's Tampa-2 style defense. Apparently, after reviewing film, the defensive staff and the money men felt that a change was needed. The Cowboys are now left with Barry Church (recovering from Achilles surgery), Matt Johnson (various injuries) and Danny McCray manning the position. They also have hybrid CB/S Sterling Moore in tow. With free agency starting in eight days and the draft a little over a month away, safety might have just moved up on the Cowboys offseason priority list.
When Church was interviewed by 105.3 The Fan and said that Kiffin told him to prepare for the "John Lynch" role, the writing was on the wall that he was a part of the Cowboys plans and the talk of a need at safety didn't refer to him.
The move is not a surprise to some, I had even included cutting Sensabaugh in my offseason moves wishlist article. At the time, I had envisioned his as a June 1st cut, but if he isn't made that, it indicates that Dallas has his $1.4 million earmarked for some pre-draft addition.
Many lauded Sensabaugh for playing through multiple injuries over the years. One of his biggest claims to fame though was probably the fact that Dallas had completely shut down Calvin Johnson in a game in 2012 until Sensi left the contest with concussion concerns. At that point, Megatron went off on Dallas, winning several jump ball opportunities. In four seasons with Dallas, Sensabaugh totaled 198 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles.
Friend of the blog Joey Ickes retweeted a telling stat about the player from Pro Football Focus:
Gerald Sensabaugh had only 3 run stops last season, the fewest of any safety with over 300 run snaps. #Cowboys— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) March 4, 2013
Now, the Cowboys have additional cap space, but also an additional hole to fill. The direction they go to address the position will tell a lot about how they view the current in-house players at safety. As Stephen Jones mentioned that the team "has a need at safety" it would be safe to assume that they won't be standing pat for long. Players such as Ed Reed, Kenny Phillips and Dashon Goldson are available in FA, while Kenny Vacarro, Matt Elam, Jonathan Cyprien and a host of others headline a pretty deep safety draft class.
For a deeper look into possible replacements, catch up here.