If The Price Is Right: 5 Affordable Free Agents


Although it is uncertain the exact time that Tony Romo will be signing his extension, it seems to be close to imminent that the deal will get done sooner rather than later. It also may seem uncertain as to how much money may be saved and what will become of those savings. However for the fun of wishful thinking, I decided to comprise a list of possible yet affordable free agent acquisitions that could be a great deal of help for The Dallas Cowboys in 2013.

Another decision that will need attention this offseason will be that of: What to do with Doug Free? I believe this organization is being very cautious and smart. It is true that Doug Free has been underwhelming to say the least. I think it has much to do with the fact that he doesn’t play with much power. It’s not a negative to be a finesse player by any means, but traditionally “The Right Tackle” is supposed to have some power to coincide with athleticism and drive the running game. As a result of Free’s inability to effectively play with power, the run game has suffered tremendously as of late. The powers at be are being cautious because of the lack of depth and uncertainty of their position in this year’s draft. It doesn’t hurt to stand pat at this point with a possibility of designating Doug Free a post June 1STcut.

Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) signals at the line of scrimmage with center Ryan Cook (63) against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has been made of The Dallas Cowboys decision to stay quiet thus far in Free Agency. Some have shown positive remarks with the idea, and then others such as Adam Shein of NFL Network believe this team is destined to be the worst NFC representative. Personally, I don’t believe he has much of a grasp on the current state of this franchise. It was reported this week that Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett were approached by Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli asking if there was any room to keep Anthony Spencer. I have believed all along that although somewhat undersized, Anthony Spencer will benefit from this move to a 4-3. After reading a lot of material about the scheme, I understand why this team has decided to make this switch. One of the major focuses of this scheme is to have players with the ability to attack the offense simplistically, and create turnovers. This bodes well for some of the veterans on this squad. Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware and even Anthony Spencer have shown the ability to attack opposing quarterbacks when in a 4-3 stance. This team has also invested money in press-man corners. The Tampa-2 is not necessarily built around having very talented corners but it doesn’t mean it won’t help. By simplifying the scheme and basically unleashing your skilled pass rushers, whilst still having the players that can cover the backside, there is hope that this team can finally start winning in the turnover ratio.

With that said there are a few positions on this defense and offense that cause more uncertainty, and could use some crafty veteran or a dazzling draft pick spent in that direction. Let’s take a look at some possible Free Agent targets that if still lingering in April could be affordable enough to grab the attention of “Capologist” Stephen Jones, and could make an impact on this team without stopping progress; sorry Brian Urlacher.

First, let it be known that signing Ernie Sims was in my opinion a very good deal. He will fit well into this 4-3 scheme and could quite possibly be a starting Strong Side Linebacker. When looking at Free Agents, I find it best to ask every question you can before making a decision. Questions like: “Why is this team so willing to get rid of this player? Is he a good fit in this scheme? Would he stop progress on players currently performing on this team?” and also as in the case with Ernie Sims, “At one point this guy was drafted highly, could he possibly perform better on this team?” It’s going to be written as a under-the –radar signing in my mind, as I believe it will pay dividends for this franchise.

I would like to address the fact that the market has been very kind to teams this year, which is why I have optimism in some of the players I’m going to discuss. Since Free Agency began there has been one name I have been tracking and hoping for: Eric Winston.

Eric Winston- OT– He was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs because of their cap situation. They had already committed money to another tackle and he became the odd man out. He’s 6’7 and 302lbs, I’ve watched some tape on Winston, and though not perfect, he does play with some power and he has some great size. The reason for my optimism regarding his possibility of becoming a Cowboy is because of some of the names at Tackle still floating around the league, names such as Sebastian Vollmer and Andre Smith. Winston would likely have to wait for these guys to sign before he would get serious looks. In my heart of hearts although, I believe he may be too rich for this team, but still worth noting.

Brandon Moore- G– If the scouts’ are starting to feel that the best Guard might not be available come April 25th, then this would be a low-cost solution to get a Guard to replace Bernadeau and move him to compete at Center. I’ve always liked Brandon Moore; he seems to have good durability, which has been an issue for this line. He also seems to have gotten better every year and was recently a Pro-Bowler. He is not a long term solution at 32 years old but he could certainly help for the time being.

Amobi Okoye- DT– This is another under-the-radar type of player. Rod Marinelli has familiarity with Okoye but also has talked highly of him. Okoye could add some depth and compete for a starting role on this defense. He has been described as a good character guy but also a guy with a high motor. The defense could use some more energetic and hard-working high motors. Okoye would fit well and also not break the bank.

Ronde Barber- CB/S– Not quite sure why Barber is so intriguing but just his knowledge for the scheme would be helpful. He has definitely lost a step, but the move to Safety has been a benefit for him. He seems to always be in the right spot. His leadership skills could fair well with the young Safeties on this squad. His future plans are unclear, he may retire, or may not be interested in Dallas, but he deserves a mention. For a low risk deal, Barber could make an impact for a team switching to a 4-3 Tampa-2. In the end I believe The Cowboys will most likely try and fix this position in The Draft.

LaRod Stephens-Howling HB– To be honest, this guy makes the list because he hasn’t been injured all that much. He is still young and in my opinion he could shoulder the load and help spell DeMarco Murray. I still feel that this team will be looking to the Draft for this position but out of the Free Agents on the market, Stephens-Howling seems to be the better fit for The Cowboys.

These 5 Free Agents are the ones that I have been keeping tabs on. It is unrealistic to think that The Cowboys are going to make any type of flashy signing, but in April these 5 players could still be looking for a team. If this organization is able to have any funds for improvement then these guys fit the mold and could find roles on this squad. It is still my assumption that The Dallas Cowboys are going to be more focused on The Draft, (which they should be), and that some of the above mentioned positions could be filled with Draft Picks instead. With that said, unlike Adam Shein, the sky is still in place last time I checked, and just because The Dallas Cowboys are not entering the Free Agency Frenzy like last year, this team still has the same record as every other team in The NFL and that is (0-0). Nobody wins Superbowls in the offseason; there is still plenty of time on the clock.