The Free Agent Big Board is finally complete. Over a month ago, we decided to take a look at the top 20 free agents at each position and evaluate them. They were given a score based on talent, need, and age. Then, these players were placed into groups depending on the projected size of the contract they would demand.
They are as follows:
- Splash Signings = average annual salary = $7 million or more
- Upscale Purchases = average annual salary = $5 to $7 million
- Value Guys = average annual salary = $3 to $5 million
- Bargain Buys = average annual salary = $2 to $3 million
- Clearance Rack = average annual salary = $2 million or less
With the help of my BTB peers, we then ranked ten players in each group (score of 10 being the highest) as we selected the free agents we wanted the Cowboys to go after. It is time to deliver these results.
Since the big signings will get the free agency frenzy started, we begin by revealing the big money players that could make a huge impact for the Cowboys.
Time for teams to make it rain up in here!
A review of the past hour of free agency... pic.twitter.com/0gmnI5HOGk— Pro Football Weekly (@PFWeekly) March 8, 2016
The Cowboys may not spend the resources on a big-name free agent this season, but that doesn't stop us fans from dreaming big. In recent years, the front office has been particularly frugal with their money. DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, and DeMarco Murray are all guys that stop getting money from Dallas. Last year, the team bucked the trend when they invested a nice chunk of change by signing Greg Hardy. Of course, it was just for a one-year deal and it doesn't look like he'll be returning. Could Dallas make another extravagant purchase this off-season? And if they do, who should they sign? Here is the free agency board for the most expensive free agents that would make the most sense for Dallas.
It's been heavily discussed that the Cowboys need a lot of work on the defensive side of the ball, so it should be no surprise that all of these players are on defense.
1. Eric Berry
Despite the Cowboys already crapping out when they rolled the dice on a Kansas City Chiefs defensive back in the 2012 free agency, the consensus here at BTB is that Eric Berry would be a huge help to the Cowboys defense. Unfortunately, the Chiefs love him too as they decided to hit him with the franchise tag. Berry is off the board.
2. Malik Jackson
The Cowboys have some good pieces in DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford, but they still need more help on the defensive line. While a lot of fans are enamored by an explosive rusher from the edge, the real answer could come in the form of an inside guy.
Free Cowboys draft advice: Nothing changes a defense like the ability to stop inside runs and get inside pressure. Nothing.— One Cool Customer (@OCC44) March 7, 2016
The Denver Broncos star defensive tackle is going to draw some huge interest this free agency. And that's understandable, he's a huge guy. The young defensive tackle had a breakout season with 21 quarterback hurries, 16 quarterback hits, and 5.5 sacks. He also had seven pass deflections (J.J. Watt led the league with eight). Acquiring Jacksons' services is going to be extremely difficult as there are reports he's already garnering heavy attention.
The defensive end had four teams who expressed serious interest in obtaining his services: The Jacksonville Jaguars, John Fox's Chicago Bears, John Elway's Denver Broncos and Jack Del Rio's Oakland Raiders.
The Jaguars, Bears and Raiders all have a ridiculous amount of cap space. Dallas will have a hard time outbidding these teams for Jackson.
UPDATE: It looks like the Jaguars are going to make Jackson a very rich man.
The #Jaguars deal for DL Malik Jackson is 6 years, $90M with $42M guaranteed, source said. So, wow.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2016
3. Janoris Jenkins
The good news is that Jenkins isn't likely to sign with the Los Angeles Rams this season. The bad news is - he's going to be expensive. The Rams made their decision last week of which cornerback they are insistent in keeping when they slapped the franchise tag on Trumaine Johnson. The Rams still wanted Jenkins too as they offered him a 5-year/$45 million deal. But that offer hurt Jenkins feelings and he took to twitter to share his feelings.
Total disrespect when u held down one side all 4 years and force the ball the other way.. #ThanksButNoThanks— Mr.Pix6Sh*t/Clamps (@JjenkzLockdown) February 29, 2016
If $9 million a year isn't going to do it for him, that doesn't bode well for the Cowboys chances.
4. Bruce Irvin
Irvin has been an effective edge rusher for Seattle over the last couple seasons. He had 6.5 sacks in 2014, and 5.5 last year. Those numbers aren't eye-popping, but he's a very consistent player and will be a nice addition to any defense. Irvin loves it in Seattle and may give the Seahawks a home-town discount. So, not only does Dallas have to throw out the highest offer, it has to be high enough to separate themselves from Seattle.
But that isn't the Cowboys only problem with Irvin. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons are interested in him. Both teams have former Seahawks defensive coordinators as head coaches. If Irvin is afraid of getting homesick, signing with a former coach could ease the pain.
5. Charles Johnson
The Carolina Panthers saved themselves $11 million by cutting Johnson last Thursday, so now the 29-year old defensive end is looking for a job. And it shouldn't be too hard for him to find one. It doesn't seem like that long ago when Johnson was tearing it up for the Panthers. Many fans know what a force Greg Hardy was for the Panthers in 2012 and 2013 when he sacked the quarterback a total of 26 times. During those same years, Johnson had 23.5 sacks.
But will the Cowboys mess around with another former Carolina defensive end who's best years are behind him?
6. Eric Weddle
The Cowboys need a good safety. Weddle is a good safety. But at 31 years of age, would he be the type of investment the Cowboys should spend a lot of money on? The thought of pairing him with Byron Jones is enticing to many fans. Weddle is a veteran that could help Jones along his development. Both these two have good heads for the game and it could be a perfect match.
Weddle is insistent that he's got a lot left in the tank. Of course, any free agent on the northern side of 30 is going to say that (just ask Tony Romo). Weddle made his case recently by saying...
"I've got 3-5 years left in me. I want to go somewhere I have a chance to win a Super Bowl. Until last year, I've never been injured. I've never had surgery. I don't drink, I don't go out. My shoulders, back, legs, hip, they're all fine. I think I bring a lot to a team."
Does he look Dallas as a possible landing spot to be in contention for a Super Bowl? Typically, 4-12 teams don't qualify, but if the Cowboys add some key pieces and keep themselves healthy, it wouldn't be surprising to anyone to see them back in the mix again.
7. Casey Hayward
The Cowboys love versatile corners and Hayward fits that description. While he's not a candidate to play safety, he showed his flexibility by playing both outside corner and in the slot last season for the Green Bay Packers. Hayward has had 168 tackles, 35 passes defended, and nine interceptions during his four-year NFL career.
The Packers are stacked in the secondary with players like Sam Shields, Demarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and Micah Hyde all under contract so it looks like Hayward will be playing elsewhere. There are several corners hitting free agency, but he's one of the young ones so it should be expensive to ink the Packers defensive back.
8. Damon Harrison
Dallas would love to have "Snacks" in the middle to eat up ball carriers, but he's going to be in high demand. Gang Green Nation reported,
Harrison indicated a while back that money would not be the only factor in his decision. That does not necessarily mean he was destined to return to the Jets. While Harrison might take things other than money into consideration, the fact of the matter is he has worked his way up from a small college to become a high quality player. This is his chance to set himself and his family up for life. It is one he has earned.
You can't blame the guy for cashing in on a big spending off-season like this one.
9. Robert Ayers
The New York Giants have two edge rushers on the market, Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers. The asking price for these guys are approximately $10 million. JPP is a player New York is going to hang on to, which means Ayers could be looking for a new place to hang his hat.
Rumor late last week was DE Robert Ayers was looking for $10M per year from #Giants. Same asking price as Mario Williams— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) March 7, 2016
Spending that kind of money may be overpaying for what you will get in return, but defensive ends have shown to have good return value. Ayers is a consistent player. Bringing a guy like him in could buy the Cowboys some time to help bridge some of the younger pass rushers.
10. Brandon Marshall
Signing Marshall away from the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos won't just cost the team some money. It will cost them a second-round pick as well. The Broncos are placing a second-round tender on Marshall.
Marshall has had a couple strong seasons after being cut by Jacksonville in 2013. The Broncos have gotten great production out of him as he led their team in tackles in 2014 with 110.
What high priced free agents would you like the Cowboys to sign?