Will free agent strong safety Barry Church be too expensive for the Dallas Cowboys to re-sign this offseason?
With several of their players scheduled to hit the free agency when the market officially opens on Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys have some vital decisions to make, and quickly. The Cowboys brass must determine which of their 20 unrestricted free agents to attempt to re-sign, and which one’s they are willing to move on from.
One of those free agents is starting strong safety Barry Church. Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Toledo back in 2010, the now 29-year old veteran spent his first three seasons in Dallas primarily as a back-up and special teams player. Church made the leap to starter in 2013, and for the past four years has averaged 108.5 combined tackles per season.
During that span, Church has been the cornerstone of the defensive secondary. And many believe the Cowboys want to bring him back into the fold for another season or longer. But one insider believes it’s a strong possibility that Dallas could simply be outbid for the veteran’s services in free agency.
"“I think the Cowboys’ focus will be on Church, McFadden, Carr and Claiborne,” replied Todd Archer, staff writer for ESPN.com, to a recent mailbag question. “Do I expect them to get deals done with any of them before free agency begins? That would surprise me. The rumblings around the combine is Church could be priced out of the Cowboys’ range.”"
According to Sportrac.com, Church’s estimated market value is approximately $4.5 million per season. A four-year, $18 million contract, for example. Obviously, a team may be willing to pay Church much more as the current free agent safety market is sparse.
Along with Church, Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox is also a free agent. But even if Dallas loses both players, they have enough depth to sustain themselves. Two years ago, the Cowboys used a first round selection to draft defensive back Byron Jones, whom the coaching staff cemented at starting free safety last year.
Behind Jones on the depth chart are safeties Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier. Heath is a four-year veteran in Dallas that fans have been clamoring about this offseason after he posted three tackles, a sack and a interception (almost two) in the Cowboys playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Frazier was a sixth round selection out of Central Michigan last year who saw a total of 36 defensive snaps in 2016. But Dallas hopes the 22-year old develops enough this offseason to have a bigger role later this year.
If Dallas is unable to re-sign Church, I believe it would be a major loss. But not a catastrophic one. I think it would compel the Cowboys to re-sign Wilcox while also making the safety position a bigger priority during the upcoming NFL Draft.