The Cowboys will face some interesting decisions in free agency in 2013. Of the list I am about to present, I have a feeling that most of these players will not be wearing a star on their helmet next season. With that being said, let’s break them down.
2013 Unrestricted Free Agent class :
Victor Butler OLB, Rudy Carpenter QB, Kenyon Coleman DE, Mike Jenkins CB, Felix Jones RB, L.P. Ladouceur LS, Stephen McGee QB, Kevin Ogletree WR, John Phillips TE, Brodney Pool FS, Anthony Spencer OLB, C.J. Wilson CB
The possible candidates to be resigned :
Anthony Spencer OLB … Spencer was franchised in the offseason to a 1 year deal worth $8.8 mil. The Cowboys are in no rush to sign him long term, and this is basically a make or break season for him. Spencer,28, will be entering his 6th season with the club, and must prove that he can be effective pass rushing the quarterback. And remember, the Boys drafted Kyle Wilber in the 4th round, and seem to be very high on rookie free agent Adrian Hamilton.
Felix Jones RB … Just like Spencer, this will be a make or break season for Jones. Since being drafted in the 1st round in 2008, Jones has missed 16 games in 4 seasons due to numerous injuries. Jones will have to prove to the club that he can remain healthy throughout the season, and become a dependable 1-2 punch with 2011 3rd round pick, DeMarco Murray, if he wants to be resigned in 2013.
John Phillips TE … Phillips was one of 12 players selected in that disastrous 2009 draft. Phillips seems to be the only bright spot selected that year, and will serve as the #2 TE on the roster, backing up future Hall of Famer, Jason Witten. With the departure of Martellus Bennett, Phillips will have every shot to prove he belongs on this team.
L.P. Ladouceur LS … After signing with the team in 2005, Ladouceur took over the snapping duties, and never looked back, becoming a flawless snapper, something the Cowboys hadn’t had since Dale Hellestrae retired in 2002. Now sure the club could search for younger and cheaper options next offseason, but it did take them 4 seasons to find a suitable replacement before. I say Ladouceur will be resigned.
The slim chance of returning candidates :
Victor Butler OLB … Entering his 4th season, Butler has been a very serviceable backup to Anthony Spencer. Even though Butler has become a dependable 3rd down pass rushing specialist, and special teams player, Butler will never be a starter on this team. In a 3-4 defense, the Cowboys normally keep 4 inside and 4 inside outside linebackers. Along with Butler, the team also has Spencer, Ware, Wilber, Hamilton, and Alex Albright ( who can play inside or outside ). If Spencer is resigned, and Wilber and Hamilton pan out to be good players, there may not be a role on this team for Butler.
Kevin Ogletree WR … Ogletree was resigned to a 1 year contract for a reason, to win the #3 WR position. In 3 seasons with Dallas, Ogletree has 25 catches, 294 yards, 0 TD’s. If Ogletree fails to seperate himself from players such as Andre Holmes, Cole Beasley, and Danny Coale in training camp and preseason, he will not make the 53 man roster.
Brodney Pool FS … Pool, 28, is just like Ogletree, he was signed to a 1 year contract for a reason, to win the starting free safety spot for the 2012 season. Pool will be entering his 8th season with his 3rd team, and will be heavily challenged by 2012 4th round selection, Matt Johnson. Rumor has it that several coaches were against this signing, so that will add only more pressure for Pool this training camp, and season.
The empty your locker and bring us your playbook candidates :
Kenyon Coleman will most likely be cut along with fellow defensive lineman Marcus Spears before the 2013 season begins. Quarterbacks Stephen McGee and Rudy Carpenter may both be cut before the season begins. With the signing of Kyle Orton, the Cowboys may decide to only keep 2 QB’s on the roster this season, and go long on depth at a different position. Don’t be surprised to see one of these 2 players added to the practice squad for emergency purposes though.
Mike Jenkins went from being the #1 cornerback to becoming the #4 cornerback in about a month’s time. With the expected release of Terence Newman, the Cowboys signed Chiefs Brandon Carr on the first day of free agency, and then traded from #15 to #6 with the St. Louis Rams to select the #1 cornerback in the entire draft, taking LSU’s Morris Claiborne. Along with resigning #3 Orlando Scandrick to a 5 year $27 mil extension, and recovering from shoulder surgery, Jenkins will start training camp on the PUP list.
C.J. Wilson will be fortunate to make the 53 man squad. Battling Jenkins ( when healthy ), along with competing with rookie free agents Isaac Madison, and Lionel Smith, and 1st year player Mario Butler ( who had a good 2011 preseason ) that was placed on the practice squad. Rumor has it, Jenkins is on the trading block.
And now we will take a look at the Restricted Free Agents for 2013 :
Rob Callaway DT, Barry Church SS, Phil Costa C, Clifton Geathers DE, Orie Lemon ILB, Danny McCray FS/SS, John Nalbone TE, Awasi Owusu-Ansah FS, Mana Silva FS/SS, Phillip Tanner RB, Justin Taplin-Ross SS/FS, Teddy Williams CB
When you view this list of players, you can’t help but notice there are a number of safeties in this group. Church, McCray, Owusu-Ansah, Silva, and Taplin-Ross.
That tells me that the Cowboys are unsettled at the safety position, and are turning over every stone to find a complete counterpart to pair with SS Gerald Sensabaugh.
Church and McCray are both entering their 3rd season in Dallas. Church is basically Sensabaugh’s backup, while McCray is more of a special teams ace, and really doesn’t contribute very much to the defense.
Rob Calloway, Orie Lemon, Owusu-Ansah, and Teddy Williams are players from the 2011 practice squad, and needs to show the club they deserve to be here.
Main candidates on this list that needs to show something this season to stick :
Barry Church : Needs to show that he can be a solid contributor to this defense, and be able to replace Sensabaugh incase of injury.
Phil Costa : Started 16 games for the Cowboys at center in 2011, in only his 2nd season. Now with 2 new starters beside him, and a year of experience, must show that he will be a consistent pass and run blocker to return in 2013.
Phillip Tanner : Surprised coaches and made the 2011 squad as a rookie free agent. Must show that last season was no fluke, that he can remain healthy, and serve as a valuable #3 running back.
If the price is right, and the value is there, I would not be surprised to see players like Mike Jenkins and Victor Butler used as trade bait to obtain players the Cowboys may be in need of such as a #3 WR, a #3 blocking TE, or possibly a big NT. If players like Kenyon Coleman, and Marcus Spears are released, that would leave depth concerns at DE. Sliding Jay Ratliff to DRE would make the most sense, and adding a NT with size and ability would be more suitable for this defense.