Stephen Jones is not the type to push the panic button no matter what outside voices may think of his football club. The first wave of free agency and the draft are but distant visions in the rear-view mirror of the 2016 offseason. However, it's that second wave of free agency that tends to happen between veteran minicamps, OTA's, and training camp where some teams do their best work. The Cowboys have been no strangers to adding a player late that makes significant contributions such as Rolando McClain.
Talent acquisition is a 24-hour, 365-day type of business. Even though the C.O.O. is feeling "content" with his process and has taken down the proverbial "help wanted sign", that can change in an instant. Here at BTB, we wanted to give you a look at guys that may still be on the market but could help the Cowboys nonetheless.
Dwight Freeney, DE
The Cardinals signed Freeney last year in October to add depth to their already talented defensive line. Freeney racked up eight sacks in 11 games played which led the team and another sack in the divisional playoff game against the Packers. As a situational pass rusher, Freeney could give the Cowboys some much-needed help early in the season. Marinelli talks about the eight-man rotation, Freeney (36) is getting long in the tooth but it's hard not to think he could carve himself out a role on this defensive line that is void of proven talent. He has already made it known that he plans on playing in 2016 as long as it's for a team that can contend.
At this point, Freeney knows that he still has value to teams because the wily veteran still has the knack to beat blockers and get to the quarterback. The biggest question mark the Cowboys have is that very skill. Maybe he's too old to some, but he can still get it done in a reduced role. Eight sacks, by the way, is good enough to lead this team, too.
Mike Neal, OLB/DE
Neal is a versatile player that can line up just about anywhere and be effective. He's not one of those players that are going to get the masses excited but if brought in as part of a rotation, he may make you proud. He finished last season with 36 tackles, four sacks, and a forced fumble. Some may scoff at that but the Cowboys have been a bottom-feeding pass rush for quite some time now. Nobody should be scoffing at anyone at this point. Neal is only 28-years old and seems like the type of signing that the Cowboys would make. A guy with a history of being productive, although not outstanding, something similar to what they had with Jeremy Mincey.
The Cowboys are not desperate for anyone at this point, but having another productive veteran could be the perfect two-year bridge player to the next round of pass rush talent currently in their rookie seasons.
Leon Hall, CB
Hall has already had a meeting with the Cowboys but they were in no hurry to sign the 31-year old. He's been a steady player throughout his career with the Bengals. The Cowboys were looking to add a veteran cornerback in free agency but weren't able to execute. Brandon Carr reduced his salary in order to help the team but Hall could still be of service to them in a multitude of ways. One particular spot for Hall is as the slot cornerback, which would effectively allow Orlando Scandrick to stay on the outside.
Though they were able to talk Carr into the reduction, the Cowboys still may not be done at cornerback. They have drafted Anthony Brown, a guy who they believe is very athletic and could help them. However, they are still only one injury away from serious question marks. The secondary isn't all that strong to begin with, Hall could be a low-cost late addition to the roster that can give the Cowboys a little breathing room.
Josh McCown, QB
Now, I realize that he currently is a member of the Cleveland Browns, but he may become available at some point. He is currently due to make $5 million this season. With RGIII and Cody Kessler on the roster, McCown may be too pricey for the Browns to keep at that tag. Given RGIII's injury history, it may not be too smart to just let McCown go but it is something to monitor. McCown isn't that exciting of a prospect as he still owns a losing record (18-39). However, he's a veteran that knows a thing or two and is only two years removed from a pretty good year in Chicago.
He actually wasn't bad last season either with 2,109 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 93.3 passer rating. If he does become available, he would absolutely beat out Kellen Moore, but other teams could be in the bidding too. McCown, 36, is not a bad option at backup quarterback and could add stability to the position. You could mention Ryan Fitzpatrick but he's not going to be a backup right now, someone will sign him to start games. The biggest mistake is to assume that Moore is the entrenched number two quarterback, he needs some competition. Even though Dak Prescott is a rookie, I'll take my chances with him over Moore, sorry not sorry Scott Linehan.
Kroy Biermann, DE
Biermann is not a sack master by any means but he could end up being a very solid player to the team that gives him a shot. He was quite productive for the Atlanta Falcons as a run-stuffer the past couple of years. He could be a solid piece to the defensive depth chart. He had 54 tackles and forced fumble last season though he only had 2.5 sacks. Biermann has been an underrated player most of his career but he has the motor and could be a perfect fit for Stephen Jones' two-year deal theory.
He's received high remarks from his coaches as a guy that comes in and gives it his all until the whistle is blown. At 30, he's not too old to spend a modest contract on and get some production out of him over the next few season. For what it's worth, ESPN's Bill Polian gives him a B-minus grade, pretty solid player all around to think about. In fact, one writer thinks he could be "the steal of free agency."