With the Super Bowl over, the 2015 offseason is officially underway. Over the offseason, the Dallas Cowboys will have a ton of personnel decisions to make. For Dallas to 'win' the postseason, they will need to not only bring in impact players through the draft, they will have to make the correct decisions when it comes to free agency, whether that be by re-signing a player or using their cap space to bring in a player.
When a team cuts someone on the first day of the offseason, it's usually a bad sign. Instead of waiting until the new NFL season officially begins on March 9th, the Atlanta Falcons decided to not even wait until then to release Justin Durant. Despite coming off his best season, Durant is a guy that didn't fit in Dan Quinn's long-term defensive plans. Durant hits the market at an interesting time, the same time where the Cowboys could potentially have a ton of questions at the linebacker position.
Rolando McClain's deal is officially up. And while many draft experts have predicted that UCLA's Myles Jack could be the team's first pick, the reality is that if McClain is brought back and the Cowboys have enough confidence in Anthony Hitchens and last year's fourth-round pick Damien Wilson, Dallas likely won't go the linebacker direction in the draft. Bringing back McClain is going to be a storyline to follow as free agency nears.
On one hand, the Cowboys got a ton out of McClain over the past two years. Dallas basically gave McClain a "prove-it" type of deal. He flashed his first-round potential at times, but he also looked extremely lost in some games as well. But because the Cowboys gave McClain a chance when no one else really would, I would imagine the 26-year-old would give the Cowboys the upper-hand in terms of his free agency suitors this offseason. But what happens exactly if the Cowboys do not bring back McClain and they do not have confidence in Hitchens or Wilson taking on bigger roles? Well the answer to that question could be bringing back a familiar face in Durant.
With the Falcons for just one season, Durant registered 82 tackles. At 30 years old, Durant is a guy who has been productive in the games he's played in. Because of his age, he won't command that much money in free agency, a bonus for Dallas, especially if they'd like to sign a blue-chip cornerback in free agency.
The problem with Durant is, and has always been, his health. In two seasons with the Cowboys, Durant played in just 16 games. Last year with the Falcons, he managed to play in 13 games. But in Dallas, Durant's role wouldn't be a starting one. Instead, it would be one where he would play in some sub-packages, mainly in packages that focus on shutting down the opposition in the running game. Durant is also a seasoned guy who would be able to help the progression of both Hitchens and Wilson.
Dallas continually finds good, cheap gets in free agency. If the Cowboys want some insurance at the linebacker positions and they don't want to use their high draft pick on a linebacker, bringing back Durant wouldn't be that bad of an idea. Durant wouldn't cost all that much and he could potentially be a guy who's a stopgap solution until the Cowboys can fully groom a guy like Wilson or even another linebacker prospect that they take at some point in the draft.