We now live in a world where Mike McCarthy is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. We are surely in for some fun times, friends. There are changes that will come in the McCarthy era, some already happening and some unknown, and they will likely touch all levels of the team: coaches, scheme, and most importantly players.
While McCarthy is the team’s head coach and not general manager, he will obviously have some sort of say in the players that are on his team. Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay will still outfit the Cowboys roster, but it would certainly behoove them to give McCarthy the types of toys he’ll play most well with.
All of that being said, who are some players that McCarthy has had throughout his time before Dallas that could be potential Cowboys? Here are five players set to be free agents in 2020 that he has ties with (not to mention a hopefully returning Randall Cobb).
1 - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety
There were plenty of Cowboys fans that wanted the team to draft Ha Ha when he was coming out of Alabama now six years ago, there was strong debate between he and Calvin Pryor, but ultimately we all had to settle for Zack Martin. That worked out alright.
Clinton-Dix has bounced around between Washington and Chicago since his days playing for McCarthy in Green Bay, but if there is any sort of “McCarthy guy” out there it is without question Ha Ha.
When the drama about McCarthy’s final days in Green Bay was discussed at length last offseason it was Ha Ha that jumped to his former head coach’s defense. He went as far as saying that he had a lot of respect for McCarthy.
Ha Ha finished the 2019 season as PFF’s 21st ranked safety (ahead of both Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath, mind you) so it’s not like he’s going to be somebody that the Cowboys have to break the bank for.
Dallas is in sore need of legitimate safety play and while that has been a position that the team has long ignored, perhaps that won’t be the case with in the McCarthy era. Ha Ha is an option.
2 - Damarious Randall, Safety
In case you didn’t get the picture... safety is a very important thing and big need for the Dallas Cowboys.
Randall could be an option for the Cowboys to use at safety as a bridge-type player or a pairing with a prominent rookie.
He finished the season as PFF’s 40th-ranked safety so he likely wouldn’t be as strong of an option as Clinton-Dix.
He doesn’t have as much familiarity with McCarthy given that he’s spent the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but Damarious Randall still shouldn’t be ruled out as a possible option.
3 - A.J. Klein, Linebacker
The Cowboys obviously have to strong linebackers in terms of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, strong in terms of we’ve seen them be that before, but we saw depth being necessary last season.
Klein didn’t exactly set the world on fire last season in New Orleans, but he’s solid depth and has experience playing multiple positions.
Again, the Cowboys obviously have options at linebacker but with the status of Sean Lee up in the air they could need to bring in somebody to pair with what they already have. What’s more is that Leighton Vander Esch dealt with an injury this past season so that potential must be accounted for.
New Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan knows Klein very well having just coached him in New Orleans. This could be a great potential fit.
4 - Greg Zuerlein, Kicker
In talking about Mike McCarthy being the Cowboys head coach, it’s possible that part of the reason that the job became available was the way that Jason Garrett handled the kicking situation.
Brett Maher was a disaster and while the Cowboys rebounded with someone in Kai Forbath that went a perfect 10 for 10 on field goal attempts through three games, bringing Forbath back may not be the best option for 2020 (it might be obviously).
Zuerlein has seen better times as the Rams kicker and while the Cowboys shouldn’t roll dice by any means at this position it should be noted that he has worked with the team’s new special teams coordinator John Fassel for quite some time (Fassel’s whole Rams tenure).
At the very least Zuerlein is an option for the Cowboys, but so is someone else. Someone a bit older and who has hurt us very much.
5 - Mason Crosby, Kicker
Again, we learned how important kicking can be to the state of a team and head coach this past season. It should not be assumed that the Cowboys are going to take this position lightly moving forward. They should consider all options.
One of McCarthy’s longest-tenured players in kicker Mason Crosby is set to be a free agent this offseason. 2020 will be Crosby’s 14th season in the NFL and while he’s had his struggles in Green Bay over recent years, his field goal percentage was a career-best 91.7% last season.
Crosby is obviously a longtime Packer who is well-established and planted in his current home. It’s difficult to imagine him leaving that situation if the team wants him back, but it doesn’t seem impossible for him to reunite with McCarthy in a stadium where he delivered a kick that broke hearts all over the world.
What’s more is that Crosby was a captain in Green Bay (granted that’s something that’s voted on by players) and that McCarthy is seemingly surrounding his new team with people that can serve as faces and leaders throughout it. Crosby fits that bill.