Within the last two years Jerry Jones has been cleaning house, by releasing and refusing to offer new contracts to some of his ageing veterans. For a while last year it seemed like Jones’ world was crumbling down, at one point it looked like the Dallas Cowboys would take years to recover from the releases Jerry Jones made. These discharges were possibly the result of the 2010 season where all if not most players on the roster performed less than stellar. That season the Cowboys ended with a 6-10 record and resulted with the dismissal of Wade Phillips mid season. Since then long time veterans like Terrance Newman, Brady James, Andre Gurode, and Flozell Adams have been released or in James case not resigned. These players were only the tip of the iceberg of players who were released; mentioning all of them would take a while.
Despite the drastic change of players on offense last year the Dallas Cowboys held off better than expected. For example, the first round pick of 2011, Tyron Smith, ended up being solid at tackle. On the other end of the spectrum, Phil Costa had a few bad snaps, while Doug Free struggled at tackle and had a decline in performance. Overall, for an offensive line that had almost all new starters they faired pretty well. As for the other veteran spots that were left wide open for competition, they came and went rather quickly. Demarco Murray, who emerged as the new star running back, filled one of those spots. In addition, the Cowboys landed a pair of starting corners, big name free agent, Brandon Carr and first round draft pick out of LSU Morris Claiborne.
Well that didn’t take long did it? Most if not every major hole that was caused by Jones’ wrath has been filled. With the exception of the third receiver vacancy and the free safety position that’s still left up for grabs. Which brings me to my point; the Cowboys haven’t had a decent pair of starting safeties for years now. After the departure of Darren Woodson on December 29th 2004, the Dallas Cowboys have been missing that leadership in the backfield. In years past Dallas haven’t seen a steady line up at safety, the Cowboys have had to settle for guys like Alan Ball, and Abraham Elam as of late. Just recently they have attempted to make some stability at the safety position by signing Gerald Sensabaugh to a long-term contract.
Veteran Brodney Pool, Danny McCray and fourth round pick out of EWU Matt Johnson will be competing for the privilege to start opposite Sensabaugh. Out of all the position battles that will undertake this off-season, this one will be the one to keep your eyes on. Despite all the hype over the battle for the third receiver spot, there is not much to watch at that position. The reason being is that Tony Romo has Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten to throw too, a third receiver that will perform like Robinson did last year is more of a luxury then a need. While the Free Safety position is a starting role up for grabs; who ever comes out on top will be starting in the season opener. Now isn’t that more exciting then focusing on a position battle that won’t be on the field every down?
It is safe to say that Brodney Pool has the best chance to be the day one starter at free safety just because of veteran experience. Although, I do believe we will see Matt Johnson or Danny McCray start sometime in the season or even before. There is still great chance that McCray or Johnson out performs Pool in the offseason. This makes for an exciting offseason battle, we wont find out who emerges on top in till the first game of the season. Till then sit back watch and enjoy the competition for Free Safety.
Tags: Abraham Elam Alan Ball Andre Gurode Brady James Brandon Carr Brodney Pool Danny McCray Darren Woodson DeMarco Murray Dez Bryant Doug Free Flozell Adams Gerald Sensabaugh Jason Witten Jerry Jones Matt Johnson Miles Austin Morris Claiborne Phil Costa Terrance Newman Tony Romo Tyron Smith Wade Phillips