After taking a good look at the Cowboys current roster, it appears to me that the Cowboys have put themselves in a very good position when it comes to contracts the next few seasons. Although they have quite a few free agents coming up after the 2012 and 2013 seasons, not many of the players are key players as it stands right now. Those that are and look to have a future with the Cowboys should be resigned. The others look to have someone behind them already being groomed to become their replacement. The Cowboys ownership looks to have a game plan with their current players to go along with their free agent signings and draft picks. That plan will hopefully go a long way towards keeping them competitive in the coming years.
After the 2012 season, the following players will become either unrestricted free agents or restricted free agents:
RB – Felix Jones, UFA
QB – Stephen McGee, UFA
WR – Kevin Olgetree, UFA
TE – John Phillips, UFA
LS – LP Ladouceur, UFA
CB – Mike Jenkins, UFA
S – Brodney Pool, UFA
LB – Anthony Spencer, UFA
LB – Victor Butler, UFA
DE – Kenyon Colman, UFA
DE – Clifton Geathers, RFA
S – Danny McCray, RFA
C – Phil Costa, RFA
S – Barry Church, RFA
So who are the key free agents come next off season? I’ve highlighted a few players to take a look at.
* Felix Jones looks to be the most important player on the list as of right now, but that may change depending on what kind of a season he has in 2012. Can be productive for a full season? Can he stay healthy? Those are the questions that need to be answered before the Cowboys decide to move forward with Jones.
*It looks like Mike Jenkins will stay around for the 2012 season, which is good news because a team can’t have too many quality corners. But with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne ahead of him chances are he will leave after 2012 so that he can once again be a starter. There is also hope that Mario Butler will continue to progress so that he can become a solid backup and replace Jenkins possibly.
*Brodney Pool was signed to just a one year contract in free agency. The Cowboys then went out and drafted Matt Johnson in the fourth round. The Cowboys could be hoping Johnson can progress to the point that he can become their starting safety in 2013 along side Gerald Sensabaugh.
*Anthony Spencer has been franchised for the 2012 season, but the Cowboys have yet to sign him to a long term extension. As with Matt Johnson the Cowboys are hoping that fourth round draft pick Kyle Wilber can become the next in line to replace Spencer.
*Although Phil Costa is a restricted free agent it could be in the plans for Bill Nagy to eventually replace him at center.
I understand that maybe all these options may not work out, but even if a few of them do then they will put the Cowboys in great shape as far as not needing to sign some of the players who will be free agents in 2013.
Now just for fun let’s take a look at the Cowboys free agent class in 2014. Things will be a little different compared to 2013 as far as a there being a few more core players facing free agency.
QB – Tony Romo, UFA
FB – Lawrence Vickers, UFA
K – Dan Bailey, UFA
LB – Sean Lee, UFA
DE – Jason Hatcher, UFA
DT – Josh Brent, UFA
LB – Dan Connor, UFA
DE – Sean Lissemore, UFA
C – Kevin Kowalski, RFA
WR – Andre Holmes, RFA
P – Chris Jones, UFA
LB – Alex Albright, RFA
As of right now there are a few more important players for the Cowboys on the 2014 free agent list, but at the same time 2014 is far away and a lot can change between now and then. Let’s go ahead and take a look anyway.
*Obviously Tony Romo is the most important player on the list. Fans know the story of Romo as the Cowboys starter. Only one playoff victory since he took over in 2006. Some blame Romo for the Cowboys lack of success, some blame the Cowboys defense. A lot will go into the next two seasons as far as Romo’s production as well as having to consider his age whether the Cowboys will look to resign him or start to move in another direction. If things continue to go well with Romo look for the Cowboys to sign him to an extension even before the end of the 2013 season.
*Dan Bailey had an incredible rookie season with the Cowboys in 2011. With David Buehler no longer on the team Bailey takes over kickoffs as well, which he did for most of last season. If Bailey continues to be just about automatic on field goals it’s going to be hard to let him slip away.
* Sean Lee has become the leader of the Cowboys defense and looks to stay around for awhile. If Romo is indeed resigned before the end of 2013 then Lee becomes the most important free agent for the Cowboys.
*Come the end of 2013 Jason Hatcher will be 31 years old. The Cowboys drafted Tyrone Crawford in the third round and look at him as a project. If Crawford works out like the coaches hope he will, then he could be in line to replace Hatcher at defensive end.
As of right now the Cowboys look to be in good shape for 2013 and 2014 when it comes to their free agents. Felix Jones may or may not be the Cowboys main focus after the 2012 season and if Romo is indeed signed before the end of 2013, then that leaves Lee and Bailey to deal with. People say kickers are a dime a dozen and if that is true then look for the Cowboys to focus all their attention on resigning Lee.
The state of the Cowboys could not look any better at the present time, as well as how their future looks. They have the players they want in place to make a run at another championship this season. They also have the players that they hope will be their future when the time comes for them to take over. The future looks bright for the Cowboys. Let’s hope the brightness includes a few more Lombardi Trophies.