It is the time of year when NFL organizations start trying to piece together the team they will take into the season. First item on the agenda is figuring out what to do with the players that have become free agents. This is going to be a simple process in Valley Ranch, because the Dallas Cowboys don't have a lot of free agents to worry about this year.
According to the NFL.com list of free agents. there are only nine unrestricted free agents left on the team, plus one restricted free agent. Here is a look at the players, their salary last year, and my take on whether they will be with the team this year or not.
|Player||Position||Salary (Full Year)||My Take|
|Ryan Cook||OL||$1,250,000||I don't see him hanging around as a backup this year. If he does, I am not terribly happy about what that says about the depth of the O line.|
|Jason Hatcher||DT||$2,600,000||I really like Hatcher, who was my choice for MVP on defense last season. But he is going to get offers. Big offers. That the Cowboys cannot afford to match. All the best to him with his new team.|
|Edgar Jones||LB||$715,000||One of the thousands of defensive linemen the Cowboys went through. And he will move on.|
|Jon Kitna||QB||$940,000||It was nice to see you for a game, Jon. Enjoy your retirement (again).|
|Danny McCray||S||$730,000||After years as the special teams ace, McCray saw Dwayne Harris become the ST man with his return/coverage skills. Given the struggles McCray has playing safety, the team may not try to re-sign him. If they do, they will be hoping for someone to oust him in training camp.|
|Ernie Sims||LB||$840,000||Sims just did not seem able to contribute last year. With the emergence of Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman late in the season, I think the team lets Sims go and looks for draft/UDFA talent.|
|Anthony Spencer||DE||$10,627,200||If that salary number makes you wince, I am with you. With the history here, and what happened with the player formerly known as Jay Ratliff, I don't see the Cowboys even trying, unless there is no interest anywhere else, and he can pass some pretty thorough medical exams. And then he would have to play for vet minimums. Offhand, I don't see all that coming together.|
|Brian Waters||OG||$1,500,000||Waters was a nice, affordable addition to the line. But Mackenzy Bernadeau stepped in and never missed a beat when Waters was injured. I don't think Waters would want to sign now, but might be willing to consider coming back in August. Late August. Like after all the pre-season practices are done. I think the team should keep his number handy, if he sounds interested, as an emergency fallback.|
|Jarius Wynn||DE||$715,000||See Edgar Jones above.|
NFL.com lists RB Phillip Tanner as a restricted free agent, and Spotrac has him and P Chris Jones both shown as RFAs. I don't know how to clear up the discrepancy. RFAs are players that the team has made a qualifying tender to, and that they have the option of matching offers should another team try to sign them away. I don't know if there would be any real interest in either, and would expect both to be in camp this year, with competition for their jobs.
That is it this year. Last year, the biggest free agent move the Cowboys made was putting the second franchise tag on Spencer, and we know how well that worked out. In 2014, there seems very little likelihood the team will pay that kind of money to any of its free agents, although they probably would for Hatcher - if they could afford it. With the salary cap situation and the crying needs all over the roster, I expect Dallas will find better ways to spend their money than a bidding war for a player who will be 32 next season, no matter how good he was in 2013.
It is a small advantage, because the team should not have to spend much time at all dealing with the free agents. And there are certainly plenty of other things where they can invest their time.
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