Our biggest defensive fear came true on the first day of OTAs. The Cowboys defensive leader, Sean Lee, appears to have suffered a major injury. We all hope that's not the case, but maybe this team needs to look at additional options even if he dodged a serious bullet. This injury (or scare) should make the Cowboys realize they can't just roll with who they currently have if there are better options.
The Cowboys cannot go into the season with Hitchens as the defensive quarterback. He may have potential, but the fact is, he's a fourth round rookie. They could turn to second year player DeVonte Holloman, but I don't know that I'd want to go into a season moving him and being thin at SAM. It's time to bring in someone with experience. The top candidate I see out there, and the guy I hope they give a chance to, is Erin Henderson.
There's a lot to like about Henderson. He has good size for the position with a height of 6'3" and weighing in at 244 pounds. He has experience as a middle linebacker in Minnesota's version of the Tampa 2. His tackles and sacks have gone up in each of the last three years and in 2013, he also showed improvement in his coverage skills as he collected his first two career interceptions. One of the best things about Henderson is he's only 27 years old.
As with all players available this time of year, there's a reason he's a free agent. He was released by Minnesota after receiving two DUIs within a three month period (11/13 and 1/14). The decision to cut Henderson was also aided by the fact the Vikings saved over $2Million in cap space by doing so.
After recently spending a month in rehab, reports are that he believes he's turned the corner. We're now hearing all the typical post-rehab speak and hopefully he has obtained the tools to stay sober and return to a promising career. In any case, with the injury to Lee, the Cowboys can't be too picky. Henderson has the flexibility to play the MIKE or SAM, but his veteran presence would certainly be most useful in the middle.
Nothing has been mentioned as far as a possible suspension if/when he is signed by a team. However, his actions would most certainly qualify as a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy and I could see a fine and/or suspension. If there is a suspension, it shouldn't be more than a few games, so he could help for most of the season.
In my opinion, the Cowboys need to make a move to get him in now so he can get acclimated to the system as soon as possible. There really aren't many other options out there as far as veteran middle linebackers. Desmond Bishop is probably the only other one. He's a very promising middle linebacker and doesn't have the character red flags we see in Henderson. Unfortunately, he his red flag involves the fact he has had two major injuries over the last two years. That disqualifies him as far as I'm concerned.
So, what do you say? Should the Cowboys give Henderson a call and bring him aboard if the price is right? Even if Lee hasn't sustained a season-ending injury, having Henderson on the team as insurance would go a long way in maintaining quality in the middle.