Now that the NFL Draft is behind us, it’s as good a time as any to head back to the free agency market and see the best of what’s left. The Cowboys weren’t able to address the safety position nor did they really address the 1-tech position. We’ve seen in the past the Cowboys aren’t afraid to go shopping again in the summertime. They were able to sign guys like Rolando McClain and George Selvie late in the process. They also got quality returns from both. Acquiring talent is a 24/7, 365-day-per-year business. Let’s take a look at where the Cowboys can still help their team.
DT, Terrell McClain, 30-years old (Redskins)
When McClain signed his three-year, $21 million deal with Washington, it was trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. McClain had his best season in 2016 with the Dallas Cowboys. Playing both tackle spots, McClain recorded 40 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He was never a great fit for Washington’s 3-4 look and his numbers reflected that. The Cowboys are already kicking the tires on a potential reunion with the “Dancing Bear” and he would be a great fit for the Cowboys at 1-tech. Word is the Cowboys and McClain are already talking about a contract.
The Cowboys have Maliek Collins and Brian Price on the roster that can play the one but McClain would bolster their run defense. With McClain in the mix in 2016, the Cowboys were the top-rated rushing defense (83.5 yards per game). Without McClain last year, the Cowboys were eighth in the league at 104 yards per game allowed. Terrell McClain has a few teams pining for his services but a return home to Texas would be a happy homecoming. And with the news of Collins’ injury, the Cowboys might need McClain even more now.
FS Ron Parker, 30-years old (Chiefs)
Again, we know the Cowboys are not opposed to bringing in a veteran free safety for competition. Seeing as they seemingly want Xavier Woods to win the job, bringing in a veteran like Ron Parker may make the most sense. Parker was released back in March and is experiencing a slow market like many safeties on the market. Parker started 63 games at free safety over the last five years for the Chiefs. In those 15 starts, he had 67 tackles, four passes defended, and two picks.
Parker has 321 tackles, 43 passes defended, nine interceptions, seven sacks, and five forced fumbles. The Cowboys are not likely going after the three biggest names that are on the market nor will they likely land Kris Richard’s former pupil, Earl Thomas. That doesn’t change the fact that they need to solidify the safety position, they said as much after they failed to address it in this year’s draft.
SS T.J. Ward, 31-years old (Buccaneers)
Listen, we know that the Cowboys would rather shore up the free safety position but if they truly want Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods to battle it out, so be it. They may not think strong safety is a big need but I’m looking at a depth chart that lacks some experience at both spots. Ward has played safety at a high level for quite some time and being 31-years-old doesn’t eliminate him when they made a true play at Eric Weddle a few years ago.
The have Kavon Frazier, who plays physical, but nobody on their roster really carries the stick like T.J. Ward could for this defense. It’s understandable to go with a youth movement but you also need sound defenders to start games. The Cowboys have acted as if they are set at safety and that’s way too cavalier for me to get behind. If you’re not going for a free safety because it’s time to give up on the Earl Thomas mess, go get a veteran that can be an enforcer. Ward’s 100 starts, 607 tackles, 10 forced fumbles, 8 picks, and 8.5 sacks speaks for itself.
TE Julius Thomas, 30-years old (Dolphins)
Keep in mind, the Cowboys are seemingly uninterested in a veteran tight end at this point and don’t seem at a rush to do anything. However, if they were to look for a veteran, Thomas would be a nice bridge player on that two-year deal that Stephen Jones loves to dish out. We’re three years removed from the Julius Thomas that was catching 12 touchdowns per year from Peyton Manning. Since then, Thomas has 12 touchdowns in the past three seasons combined.
Still, Thomas has good athleticism, he’s a solid pass-catching tight end that can play savvy veteran football at times. He’s not the most consistent player but he’s also played with some porous quarterbacks over the past three seasons. The Cowboys like the group of Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, Dalton Schultz, and Rico Gathers. But one thing we are sure of is that those four have combined for nine NFL catches. Bringing in a veteran like Thomas, who has seen a lot more football than that group may not be the worst idea.
DT Jay Bromley, 25-years old (Giants)
He’s a former third-round pick that came through a tremendous amount of hardship before entering the league. Bromley has played mainly as a reserve for the Giants but he was quality depth at the position. Bromley could fit the hole the Cowboys need to plug at 1-tech. Though he only has four starts, Bromley has played in 55 career games. Bromley also has produced in his reserve role, when he was asked to start in 2015, he put up 36 tackles. This past season, Bromley had 21 tackles, a batted pass, and a sack.
In the right role, if they can’t work something out with the “Dancing Bear”, it would make sense to add more depth with Bromley. Rod Marinelli likes to stop the run and keep everything in front of his defense, Bromley could help solidify their run defense.