One of the main areas of concern on the current Dallas Cowboys roster this offseason is in their defensive secondary. The lack of starting experience and depth, particularly at their safety positions, has been a hot topic amongst Cowboys fans. Especially considering the team has done little to nothing to address the issue do far this year. Instead, opting to develop the young talent currently on the roster instead of looking to free agency for veteran help. Therefore, I have compiled a list of eight current free agent safeties that I believe Dallas could possibly sign sometime this offseason.
But before we breakdown these prospective safeties, let’s take a quick look at whom the Cowboys currently have on their roster at that position. At this point, Dallas’ two starting safeties are Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Church had an outstanding year in 2014, recording career highs with 135 tackles, six passes defended, three forced fumbles and one interception. As it was only his second year as a starter, the future looks bright for the 26-year old.
Behind both Church and Wilcox are safeties Matt Johnson, Jeff Heath, Ahmad Dixon, Jakar Hamilton, Keith Smith and Ryan Smith. Johnson has yet to see any regular season playing time during his two-year stint with the Cowboys due to injuries. This is thought to be his final chance to make the Cowboys roster. But a recent hamstring injury could be his career’s death knell in Dallas.
Heath was forced into action way too early last season, starting in the Cowboys final six games. Although he recorded 60 tackles, Heath was also burned several times in coverage and made several rookie mistakes. But at times, the undrafted rookie out of Saginaw Valley outperformed fellow third round selection Wilcox. But as Heath told FOX Sports recently, all of the Cowboys young safeties feel like they will be better in 2014.
“I feel like in the OTAs this year, we feel way more comfortable in the second year. I can speak for the safeties because we all feel the same way, we’re all still young. Having the second off-season in this system, it’s really starting to slow down for us. I feel like we’re playing a lot better right now than we did at this time last year.”
The development of Heath could be one of the main reasons the Cowboys are reluctant to bring in another safety via free agency.
Another name that seems to keep popping up in the offseason is Jakar Hamilton. Also an undrafted rookie free agent from 2013, Hamilton impressed coaches during last year’s offseason programs as well as this year’s OTAs. But those accolades have yet translate past August. Hamilton recorded just two tackles in three regular season appearances last year. But he is definitely a bit of a sleeper to watch going into training camp in late July.
Dixon is a passionate rookie out of Baylor that was selected in the seventh round by Dallas. On the surface, he appears to be a Barry Church clone with playmaking potential. But Dixon has been hindered so far this offseason by a hip injury. The other safeties on the roster, Smith and Smith, are undrafted rookie free agents who will unlikely find a place on this team’s final roster.
Other than Church, who could be a Pro Bowler in 2014, Dallas has nothing but inexperienced, unproven youth at the safety position right now. And an injury to even one of them could be devastating for this defense. Let’s just say when the Cowboys start camp next month, their younger players don’t advance like they’d hope. Or, heaven forbid, there is a long term injury to one of their safeties. Then the team will have little choice but the look towards free agency for help. And here are eight possible targets for them to choose from.