The new league year is set to begin in a matter of days, therefore, free agency will be open. It looks as though the Dallas Cowboys are ready to let every one of their 18 free agents test the market. It’s an interesting method that might be smart but is also out of necessity.
The majority of the NFL weekend was spent focusing on the various Combine activities. It’s also important to remember that the Combine is the annual Rumor and Innuendo Festival. Over the past several days, we’ve seen multiple mentions of the Dallas Cowboys and just about all of them have piqued some interest or two. Here's the rub; using the marquee name of the Cowboys is just usually a major ploy to garner interest and little ever about truth.
Case in point, there are stories out there suggesting that the Cowboys should be among the favorites to land Brandon Marshall, the recently released New York Jets' receiver. Now, this is easy to see that it's merely a suggestion. However, the Cowboys do have a need at wide receiver with both Terrance Williams and Brice Butler scheduled to hit free agency.
Now, this something from a pretty good source that should be trusted. If you read that tweet, it pretty much shows you that the thought of bringing Marshall in is merely a thought. If the Cowboys are not going to want to pay Terrance Williams $6-8 million per season, don’t you think someone of Marshall’s pedigree could get even more? There is no way these things can exist together as the are in complete contradiction of each other and simply not how the Cowboys’ operate.
Let’s tackle another free agent tidbit that has come out very recently. This has to be a bit concerning because the player in question is a leader in the Cowboys’ clubhouse:
Guys like Nick Eatman and David Helman has been saying for weeks now that Barry Church may not be able to pass up what he’s offered in free agency. The truth is that once Eric Berry was off the market, Church started to shine a little brighter to certain teams. One of those teams is the Carolina Panthers who need a box safety:
According to sources, the Panthers are expected to make a run at Barry Church, who will become a free agent when the new league year opens Thursday afternoon.
Church, who’s spent the first seven years of his career in Dallas, is one of nine Cowboys’ defenders set to hit the open market. He’s not much of a ballhawk – totaling just five career interceptions – but if the Panthers land Church, he could take over at strong safety, which would allow Kurt Coleman to move back to free safety.
This would most certainly be a blow to the Cowboys who would really like to keep him as their starting safety. Now, if they lose him, that is going leave a pretty big hole in their defense and to be honest, Barry Church is one of the better players the Cowboys have had on defense. That would mean that they would have to make safety an important position to fill.
They could re-sign J.J. Wilcox but he’s a limited solution at best. If Church is indeed gone, the best option would be to draft a player like Obi Melifonwu, who just dazzled at the Combine. Pairing two extremely talented safeties in Byron Jones and Melifonwu, from the same school (UCONN), may be too good an opportunity to pass up. The point is that without Church, this Cowboys’ defense has yet another problem that they must address.
Perhaps the best rumor of the weekend still stands as the potential three-team trade that would send Kirk Cousins to San Francisco and Tony Romo to the Redskins. My colleague, Tom Ryle, already put this one to bed beautifully:
I don’t want to make any rash statements about who is believable here and who sort of looks like he is just trying for clicks. The tweets say enough about that.
There will no doubt be lots more of this in the days and weeks ahead. so remember to keep those grains of salt handy as you see things popping up in the various media. But remember, even obviously unsubstantiated rumors have some potential benefit.
Just to add on that, why would the Redskins trade their much younger and less fragile quarterback to San Francisco for Tony Romo? Is Romo better? Yes, for now. However, if Romo goes down in the third preseason game, what do you think becomes of the entire Washington front office? Secondly, why would Jerry Jones allow a rival team to acquire his four-time former Pro Bowler? It just doesn’t make much sense now does it?
What it comes down to is that Dallas is prepared to make their team better in the 2017 season but everything is up in the air right now. All of the rumors and innuendos are actually fun to read but until it has validity, it’s just that. As bold as it may seem, the Cowboys are willing to let everyone test the market, which means they might be willing to lose any of their free agents. It doesn’t mean they will lose all of them but why should they set the market?
It’s much more beneficial to play the long game and allow other teams to tell you what they think your player is worth. The Cowboys could very well end up being the better bet for some of their free agents but the front office has told us all they will not overpay for players. Free agency frenzy is a silly phrase but it is very true because it typically moves quickly, the whole point of it all is to not become desperate. Stephen Jones says he will be active in looking to improve the team but he just won't pay good players like great players and certainly not average players like good players. It’s a tough game, isn’t it?