With the news that the 32 player reps unanimously approved the CBA, football is officially back. One of the first orders of business is that teams can talk terms with their own free agent players. The Dallas Cowboys have several in-house free agents that they will have to address while they start considering supplementing their roster with players previously on other teams. Here's a run down of those players, and a quick guess as to whether the Cowboys intend to bring them back to the fold for 2011.
There remains a chance that Doug Free is swept off his feet by an offer from another team, however Jerry Jones has never let money be a hurdle in retaining a young star. This could be a scenario where Free's agent sets the market with an offer from another team and Jerry Jones matches it.
OG Kyle Kosier: 2011 Importance (9 out of 10), Long term importance (6 out of 10), Likelihood (7 out of 10).
Jason Garrett knows how important Kosier is to his line, without him the effectiveness of center Andre Gurode is minimized. His long term replacement might have been drafted in David Arkin, but there is little to think that without a full off season he'd be ready to step in. Kosier's re-signing depends on whether or not the team is looking to get out from under Leonard Davis' contract. It's possible Montrae Holland is ready to step in and start at one of the guards, but most prefer a Kosier-Holland combo to a Davis-Holland one.
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OT Alex Barron: 2011 Importance (1), Long term importance (0) Likelihood (1)
I guess I could give likelihood the 2 points that Doug Free didn't use, as that's the only scenario I could envision that would have Barron end up back with the team.
WR Sam Hurd: 2011 Importance (3), Long term importance (1), Likelihood (4)
There is a space for special teams specialists, but that is all Hurd is at this point. Passed over on the depth chart by multiple players, Hurd has never broken out the way fellow backup Miles Austin did. His future is with another team most likely, but Joe DeCamillis might have one 'get out of jail free' card to select a keeper.
QB Chris Griesen: 2011 Importance (0), long term importance (0), Likelihood (1)
Any conversation about Griesen means the team has given up on third string quarterback Stephen McGee, which I don't think they have. It would also mean that they have no interest in any of the UDFA quarterbacks.
DE Marcus Spears: 2011 importance (6), Long term importance (5), Likelihood (4)
I think the Cowboys have a passing interest in bringing back Spears, but I don't think it's happening. It's a shame too, as the stats from last year showed that Jay Ratliff's run stopping ability took a hit without Spears. Spears doesn't do the sexy thing, get at the quarterback, and may be missing those stats that would justify his contract demands. If they are very reasonable, he could return, but it would seem to be on Dallas' terms and he may look to finally cash in.
DE Stephen Bowen: 2011 importance (7), long term importance (6), Likelihood (7)
I think this is the in-house DE that the Cowboys most want to bring back. That's evidenced by the leaked review of Bowen's performance by new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Even though his 2010 performance betrayed this, Bowen isn't a bad run defender normally. I think the enthusiasm for his full time abilities is overblown a bit. With a full-game snap count, Bowen projects around 3 pressures a game. Good production, but not earth shattering. It's just a big jump from the way Spears plays.
DE Jason Hatcher: 2011 Importance (3), long term importance (3), Likelihood (4)
Hatcher gets the same likelihood score as Spears does, only because he'll come cheaper. Hatcher has been injured more than most would like, and hasn't shown anything above average performance. I don't see his impact as different from DE Igor Olshansky, and he's still under contract.
SS Gerald Sensabaugh: 2011 Importance (6), long term importance (3), Likelihood (4)
I guess 5 would be 50/50, so definitely less likely than that. The Cowboys currently have no safeties with starting experience. Sensi played adequately last year, without much secondary help. He may have eyes for the other Texas team, though, and Cowboys fans are craving back-four upgrades in the worst way. This is most likely where Jerry Jones plans to spend some money, so it may only be Sensi if each side's plans A and B don't work out.
FS/CB Alan Ball: 2011 Importance (1), long term (1) Likelihood (4)
I actually think the Cowboys will invite Ball to camp, but I don't think he makes the final roster. Unfortunately for him, the safety experiment didn't work. He logged 300 snaps in '09 as a cornerback/safety backup, but didn't really establish himself as a long term solution prospect. The drafting of Josh Thomas probably means Ball is off the roster come September 11th.
LB Leon Williams: 2011 Importance (2), long term (1), Likelihood (3)
Williams saving grace might be the lack of OLB depth, even though he's an inside backer. The drafting of Bruce Carter bumps Williams down the depth chart and he's competing for glances with Mr. Cummings from the Jets practice squad. His 2010 importance gets a spike simply because Bruce Carter said he was only 85% a few weeks ago.