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Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Free-agency series: Defensive tackles

By Calvin Watkins

Fourth in a 10-part series breaking down the Cowboys' free-agency needs, position-by-position:

Defensive tackles


Who’s on the roster: Ben Bass, Josh Brent, Rob Callaway, Jason Hatcher, Ike Igbinosun, Brian Price, Jay Ratliff, Marcus Spears and Monte Taylor.

Analysis: Ratliff and Hatcher are the starters and there is a hope Ratliff will emerge as an impact player with the move from nose tackle to defensive tackle. There is some concern about Spears' role with the team. Is he a tackle in this scheme? What about Tyrone Crawford, who was drafted as a 3-4 defensive end. Does he move to tackle? Bass showed some signs in training camp he can play a little bit and will be given a chance to prove himself again. Callaway was called up late in the season and, like Bass, will get an opportunity to receive significant playing time.

NFL free agents of interest: Brian Schaefering, Chris Canty, Amobi Okoye.

Need meter: 4. Schaefering will return because he's a exclusive rights free agent. Canty is a former Cowboy who has played in a 4-3 scheme. Canty moved from end to tackle with the New York Giants. Okoye, 25, is a young talent who might be worth looking at. He could have an immediate impact. Of course, the draft will dictate what the Cowboys do in free agency. One thing new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said he wants is speed, speed and more speed. His scheme wants solid pass rushers up front who push the pocket. If you can't do that, don't expect to play for him.