Recently we've seen a lot of folks tackling the potential offseason moves of the Dallas Cowboys albeit through the draft or free agency. We know that the Cowboys have their own extensive list of free agents and priorities to take care of, too. With only a few weeks until free agency, there are a ton of names looking to get paid in a season where the salary cap is set to jump over $150+million. In recent years, Will McClay and Stephen Jones have done a nice job at finding reasonably priced free agents on two-year deals and things of that nature. They certainly will be bargain hunting again, but I've said multiple times this offseason that 2016 may be a year in which they should get more aggressive.
That is not to say that the Cowboys need to go out there and be the winners of free agency by any means. However, they should be willing to allocate more funds to the right positions. You can't just look at the draft and expect to get better right away. Sure, they will have some high collateral in the draft to use on building blocks for years to come, but they still need to find some significant immediate upgrades. Redundancy aside here is my free agency plan for this front office.
Let Greg Hardy And Jeremy Mincey Walk
I've changed directions with this Greg Hardy situation and it's best for both parties for him to find employment elsewhere. Nobody inside Valley Ranch has said any negative things about Hardy and he certainly is an elite pass rushing talent. However, throughout the season, there were so many reports in so many different directions to this ordeal that it has become too much to handle. Hardy began his Cowboys career with a dominant performance, but it tailed off tremendously toward the end as did pretty much everything involving this team. When the head coach doesn't really even acknowledge his presence at the exit interviews portion of the season, it's safe to say, Hardy is out of sight and out of mind.
Jeremy Mincey is another player that should be allowed to find another team. He led the team in sacks in his first season in Dallas, but last season saw his play time decreased significantly and wasn't productive when he was on the field. Though Mincey has been a good character guy in the locker room, at 32, this journeyman has completed his Cowboys journey.
Sign Olivier Vernon And Re-sign Jack Crawford
If you let those two players go, it will leave two holes to fill on the defensive line. We're going to get real specific here and they need to sign Olivier Vernon. This is a player who put the 'Great' Tyron Smith on skates this past season. Some folks out there will be concerned with how much that's going to cost, but the Cowboys need to be willing players in this sweepstakes. Vernon started all 16 games for the Dolphins and had 7.5 sacks. Dallas improved a measly three spots in sacks for 2015. They need better options and nobody that you draft is going to come in and make an impact worthy of not signing a proven player. Vernon is the guy that could come in with a fresh start and make an impact for them. Sometimes you have to pay a price for production and looking at rookie's to become double-digit sack artists is too risky. Vernon may cost a little dough, but if there is one position to pony up at, it's at pass rusher.
Now, the replacement to Jeremy Mincey is already on the roster and just needs to be re-signed. Jack Crawford doubled his sack totals from the year before. Of course, four sacks is not much to write home about but Crawford has steadily improved in his two years with the Cowboys. He is a player who's arrow is pointing upward and has shown his versatility to play at tackle as well. Crawford played in all 16 games and was one of the most productive players in a underachieving unit.
Say Goodbye To Morris Claiborne /Sign Cornerback Casey Hayward
'A healthy Morris Claiborne' is the beginning of a phrase we have all heard about once or twice. It's just not very likely to happen. Maybe that means Claiborne goes to another team and has success, but it's time to move on. Though Trumaine Johnson is a more substantial player of interest, Hayward is less expensive with still some upside. Hayward was a second-round pick for the Packers in 2012. His rookie season was quite good where he gave up the lowest passer rating (31.1) of any cornerback in the league. He also was named NFC Defensive Rookie Of The Month in October of 2012 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. Hayward had six picks in his first season and allowed zero touchdowns. His second season in the league was cut short by a nasty hamstring injury that allowed him to play in only three games. In 2014, Hayward was pushed down to the dime corner on the depth chart in favor of Davon House and Sam Shields. However, he did start 11 games in 2015, though he failed to record any interceptions.
Hayward is not a name that excites many people as of late, but he still has plenty of good play left in him. He would be far more worth a modest contract than what the Cowboys currently have tied into Brandon Carr. If Carr is cut post-June 1, which he should be, Hayward offers them an option of a guy who plays much bigger than his 5' 11" frame would suggest. He's got great instincts, is a good tackler and has the awareness to recognize routes with sticky hands to make interceptions. He's also an extremely intelligent player and hasn't missed any games since 2013. By signing a Casey Hayward, the Cowboys upgrade their secondary without closing the door on drafting a cornerback high in 2016.
Sign Quarterback Colt McCoy As Insurance For Tony Romo
Ignore all the talk about Robert Griffin III and focus on his current teammate Colt McCoy. Trust me, this is not about any sort of love for the Longhorns, this is all about finding a capable and intelligent player to put behind Romo. Kellen Moore is not going to solve their quarterback conundrum. McCoy has had success as a starter when called upon and he still relatively young at 29 years old. The Cowboys could likely lure him away from Washington with a deal similar to what Jacksonville just paid Chad Henne.
Henne signed a two-year deal worth $8 million with playing time incentives should he have to play for Blake Bortles at any time. Some of you may be thinking that's high to pay a backup quarterback $4 million per season, but the Cowboys offered a similar contract to Kyle Orton some few years ago at 3-years, $10.5 million. Having a quality backup quarterback has become a necessity in the league, a necessity that I am willing to pay for. Since 2012, Tony Romo has missed at least a game each season. McCoy would offer the Cowboys a complementary passer in Scott Linehan's system that has had success as a starter in this league.
The past few years have seen Will McClay work miracles with lesser talent, but other than 2014, the results haven't been much to be happy about. This is a team with some serious question marks and sometimes you have to spend some money to make sure you avoid disasters like 2015. None of the aforementioned steps beside signing Olivier Vernon will cost too much money. Rather it's more of some savvy investments that continue to set them up for the draft. The Cowboys need significant upgrades at some crucial positions. "The Boss" Dave laid it out the other day, spend some money but at the right positions. This team needs quality, they have had enough of the quantity method.