As we move towards free agency, which begins on March 9, we’ll take a look at all the Cowboys current unrestricted free agents in an effort to discern whether they will return or not. Today, we’ll take on a player who has made himself a consistent starter, Barry Church.
Church signed with the Cowboys as an UDFA out of Toledo in the 2010 offseason. Early on Church was a special teams ace, but eventually started getting consideration for a regular defensive rotation position. He became the regular starter at safety for the 2013 season.
Case For Re-Signing
Church is a steady performer, not really spectacular, not really a threat as a playmaker (although he did have two interceptions in 2016), but someone who is always doing their job. He generally takes good angles to tackle running backs and he is good at diagnosing plays. He has topped 100 tackles for the last four seasons according to the Cowboys stats.
Church is also a team captain and a leader on the defense. He’s now a veteran who commands the respect of his teammates and has been referred to as a "glue guy," someone who holds the defense together. He’s been able to stay healthy for the most part despite missing four games in 2016 with a broken arm.
Case For Letting Him Go
The Cowboys have a few younger prospects on the team and they might start looking towards their future. J.J. Wilcox is a free agent but seemed to greatly improve in 2016, and he’s a physical presence. Kavon Frazier didn’t get much playing time so he’s still a question mark. Jeff Heath is also in the mix. Could one of them make the transition to starter next to Byron Jones? Do the Cowboys sign a 29-year-old Church to a new contract?
Church has certainly found a home in Dallas and is a good fit for the Cowboys defense. His age is creeping up and he’s taken a lot of hits in his career, so there is that factor. He’s more appreciated in Dallas than he is around the league, so that might keep his price down.
The Cowboys will likely keep him as long as the price is right, and in Church’s case it probably will be.