6 Dallas Cowboys free-agent defenders: Retain or liberate?

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, Will McClay Mandatory Credit: James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, Will McClay Mandatory Credit: James D. Smith via USA TODAY Sports /
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Dallas Cowboys
Defensive end Aldon Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Edge Rusher – Aldon Smith

Fans and experts have raved about the addition of pass rusher Aldon Smith with the Dallas Cowboys even refusing to discuss trade packages for this talented yet troubled edge rusher. I am not one of those people.

I felt right before the trading deadline that the Dallas Cowboys could get some great value for this street pickup and was confused why they didn’t trade him away. I kept my mouth shut to see if he could recover from what I viewed as a player hitting the proverbial wall and it has not happened.

I knew Smith would make some splash plays but if you look closer at his performance of late, the Cowboys should have struck a deal while he was hot. Smith played in 81% of the defensive snaps against Baltimore yet failed to record a stat.

That means zero tackles, zero sacks, nothing. I also think his containment is an issue for this defense and the player displays bad body language. If you take away his three-sack performance against the Seahawks, he has been quite pedestrian in every other game. Let’s be honest here, that Cincinnati scoop and score was a gift.

Defensive end Randy Gregory is a player that deserves more playing time in front of Smith but this might be a ploy by the team to keep Gregory asking price down when he eventually becomes a free agent. Either way you slice it, Gregory has outplayed Smith since his return.

I have started to scout this year’s draft class’ defensive ends and I have yet to find a player worthy of a top ten selection. There will be risers and fallers like every draft class have but at the moment, this feels like the position upgrade will have to come from free agency.

Washington’s defensive end Ryan Kerrigan falls into the same category as New York’s Dalvin Tomlinson where it has a dual effect in signing him. Weakening a division opponent while upgrading your team. Kerrigan is older but has a lunch-pail mentality and a motor that stays hot.

Tampa’s Shaquil Barrett is likely to command huge money as well as Pittsburgh edge rusher Bud Dupree. Before we go any further with Dupree, the player shares an agent with Dak Prescott making him basically a long shot. DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory could once again be the talk of the defensive end town next year.