So now the Cowboys hope that Dallas native Henry Melton doesn't sign with anybody else before his scheduled visit to Valley Ranch this weekend. He might not even get here until Monday.
Jared Allen, Anthony Spencer and Robert Ayers are other names the Cowboys have an interest in.
Yet because of the Cowboys' limited monies in the salary cap, they are going to be careful with any signing. They want a quality player but at their own price.
None of the free agents the Cowboys sign are going to get that five-year, $50.1 million deal that Brandon Carr got two years ago when he signed on from Kansas City.
Expect a low base salary for a free agent with a nice $6 million to $8 million signing bonus for a two- or three-year deal.
Spencer (microfracture) and Melton (ACL) are coming off injuries, so teams, while interested, could have some leverage from a financial basis due to the health of the players.
The Cowboys have time to make a move, but finding the player they want in free agency is growing tougher.
Let me offer up a way the addition of Weeden could make sense.
Things went poorly for Weeden in Cleveland. He deserves blame, but the Browns deserve a lot of blame too. He had two different coaches, two different coordinators and the guy who selected him, Mike Holmgren, was gone too. So there is that to consider. A fresh start might serve him well and I'd have to think Jason Garrett would get a read on Weeden from Norv Turner, who was his coordinator last year.
The Browns have been a place where every quarterback has gone to die, so taking a low-risk, low-cost flier on a quarterback you liked just two years ago makes some sense.
So let's fast forward to training camp and the preseason. Let's say another team loses a quarterback to injury and wants to find veteran help. We can all assume that there won't be a lot of quarterbacks available that can step in and play right away, right?
How high would a guy like Orton be on the list for a lot of teams? He threw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in his only start last year. He played extremely well in that loss; better than anybody ever expected.
If Weeden performs well enough (however you want to define that), then the Cowboys could feel comfortable in trading Orton to a team with a big need at quarterback and get a draft pick in return. Remember, this is Orton's last year under contract. If the Cowboys trade Orton before the season starts, but after July 1, then they would gain $3.25 million in cap space in 2014.
Provided he does not retire, which would be unexpected, Orton is set to count $2.254 million in dead money against the cap because of the two voidable years remaining on his contract. So the Cowboys would gain cap space that they could use to roll over in 2015 and get a draft pick for a player they were not going to keep anyway.
Does that make you feel any better?
The Cowboys have Kyle Orton as their backup to Tony Romo, and the Cowboys believe he will continue to play rather than retire with a $3.25 million base salary in 2014. If he retires, he would owe the Cowboys $3 million of the $5 million base salary he received in 2012. If he is cut, the Cowboys would save roughly $900,000 in cap space.
Orton turns 32 in November and is in the final year of his contract. After Romo went down in Week 16 with a back injury, Orton came off the bench for the 2013 season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles to throw for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
Weeden signed a four-year deal worth $8.1 million as the No. 22 pick in the first round two years ago. He is still owed more than $2 million in guaranteed money, but the Browns would only have to make up the difference if Weeden makes less from his new team.
It is possible the Cowboys could carry Romo, Orton and Weeden on the 53-man roster if they were to sign him.
The Cowboys have not carried a third quarterback on the roster since 2011 when they had Stephen McGee behind Romo and Jon Kitna. They had Alex Tanney on the practice squad for much of last season before losing him to the Browns, and re-signed Kitna for the final week of the season after Romo got hurt.
The Cowboys liked Weeden coming out of Oklahoma State. He set school records in yards and touchdowns in 2011 for the Cowboys after a short-lived career in professional baseball.
The three-day negotiating period that gave agents a chance to shop their clients to teams before the start of free agency accomplished one obvious thing.
Agreements in free agency were faster than ever. In the first three days of free agency alone, roughly 70 deals were reached for unrestricted free agents moving to new teams. In those three days, more than $927 million was spent and more than $500 million of cap room remained.
But there was one problem: the negotiating window needs the help of doctors. Getting a deal can be easy, but the league and the NFLPA must find a way for bidding teams to get some medical reports during the negotiating window. The Oakland Raiders found that out when they had to void Rodger Saffold's five-year, $42.5 million contract because of shoulder problems. The New York Giants agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal for O'Brien Schofield, but apparently he has injury concerns.
Quickening the pace of free agency can be a good thing, but the pace can be too fast for the teams and the players if the medical reports aren't allowed.
Saffold lost money when his contract was voided, taking his $8.5 million-a-year deal off the books. He was fortunate to have the St. Louis Rams ready to take him back, but he lost millions.
If anything, you could say this was a smart move in getting rid of a player to save money, in this case, $7.4 million.
Quarterback Tony Romo will reach that point someday.
If not for the restructure, Romo would have had the second-highest cap number in the NFL at his position behind Chicago’s Jay Cutler ($22.5 million).
Now Romo has the 16th highest cap hit at his position for this year.
But the future is almost now in the NFL, and the more the Cowboys keep pushing money around to create salary-cap space for the present, the more it will hurt them in the future.
Next year, Romo’s cap number is projected to be $27.7 million, the highest in the NFL. New Orleans' Drew Brees is projected to have the second-highest cap number for a quarterback at $26.4 million.
Romo’s base salary for 2015 is $17 million.
Team executive vice president Stephen Jones said a quarterback is going to take the biggest chunk of the cap on most NFL teams, and he’s right. Another example: the Giants' Eli Manning has a cap number of $20.4 million for 2014.
But at what point are you getting bang for your buck?
Romo turns 34 next month and is coming off his second type of back surgery, and if you see the same overall team result -- not making the postseason again -- regardless of how he plays, is it worth devoting a huge amount of cap space to him?
Yes, especially if you think he’s a good quarterback, which Romo is. Age and health are determining factors for players in the NFL. The fate of Romo, meanwhile might be decided in 2016.
Yeah, it’s a few years away, but if the Cowboys restructure Romo’s contract again next year to lower his cap number, it only increases it the following year. In 2016, Romo’s cap hit will be $17.6 million, pretty reasonable right?
Well before the restructure of 2014, the cap number for 2016 was $15.1 million. Now it has been increased. The Cowboys, like most NFL teams, expect the salary cap to grow each year, so they can absorb some of this money.
However, Romo, who is signed through 2019, will be 36 in 2016. Will he be the same at that age?
What happened to Ware this week could happen to Romo, and though it’s not easy to find a replacement for a defensive lineman, it’s harder to find a franchise quarterback.
I don’t want to say Calvin is wrong, but, well, um, well, I don’t agree with that premise.
I just don’t think you rebuild when you have a franchise quarterback that will turn 34 in April and is only in the second year of a six-year extension.
What the Cowboys have done the last few years -- and I wrote about it -- is re-tool. The departures of DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin and Jason Hatcher are more evidence that the Cowboys are re-tooling. With Tony Romo, the Cowboys still need to win now. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said as much at the NFL scouting combine.
What the Cowboys are doing is changing their core. While Romo and Jason Witten are still the focal points of the team because of their play, status and production, the core of the team has moved on from guys like Ware, Jeremiah Ratliff, Austin, Andre Gurode, Marc Colombo, Bradie James and Terence Newman in recent years to newer players.
The core now is Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Orlando Scandrick, Travis Frederick, Terrance Williams and Barry Church. They would love guys like Morris Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford and Gavin Escobar to join this list but they have not proven they can play yet.
The Cowboys have to maximize what they have left with Romo and Witten but not to the point where they are left in salary-cap shambles for when the “new guard” is in their prime.
Rebuilding, to me, is starting over. The Cowboys aren’t going to start over with Romo and Witten and they’re not exactly moving back to ground zero either.
What they are doing does not guarantee success or even something better than 8-8, but they are in the process of passing the torch, so to speak.
Herring had agreed to a one-year deal Thursday, but both sides agreed to walk away, which keeps Herring as a free agent. Because Herring never signed the deal, the team never made an announcement. A source said it was not related to a failed physical.
UPDATE: Herring’s agent, George Mavrikes said he is angry with the Cowboys, saying they reneged on the deal.
“He passed the physical but they think he may be an injury risk,” Mavrikes said via e-mail. “He is healthier than 90% of the league. He hasn't missed a game or a practice the last two years and maybe missed five or so games in seven years, four because of a hamstring in his rookie year. They need solid players like him. Fairly priced, never an issue off the field, can play (outside linebacker), was special teams captain, plays great against the pass and most of all, doesn't get hurt, which is why they said they want out of the deal they agreed to. It's crazy and makes no sense.”
Herring was viewed as a special teams player and backup linebacker for the Cowboys. He spent the last three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, playing mostly special teams and backup linebacker, and was the special teams captain in 2013.
In his three years with the Saints he started three games and had 35 tackles, two interceptions and forced one fumble. He joined the Saints after a four-year run with the Seattle Seahawks. He had three tackles on defense and two on special teams in New Orleans' win against the Cowboys last season.
Ware signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Broncos without leaving the building.
ESPN.com Dallas Cowboys reporter Todd Archer and Denver Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold take a look at the move.
Archer: Ware's best seasons came in a 3-4, but the Broncos are a 4-3 base team. How much do you think that will matter?
Legwold: Todd, with head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the Broncos are a traditional-looking 4-3 when they line up on early downs. But they spend much of their time in specialty packages like nickel and dime, given how often their opponents try to spread them out and throw the ball in order to try and keep up with Peyton Manning and the Broncos' offense. They had four games last season in which they were in their base defense 12 or fewer snaps, and three games when they were in the base defense nine or fewer plays. That total will go up in the coming season with the NFC West on the Broncos' schedule, but they see Ware as a fit in a mutli-faceted front that spends a lot of time in specialty looks. And they do drop 3-4 looks on people from time to time, so he'll find a place in the scheme and the Broncos will structure things however they need to in order for Ware to have a chance to flourish. With Michael Strahan when Fox was the Giants' defensive coordinator, Julius Peppers and Von Miller, Fox has routinely found a way to free up the rushers to get the quarterback.
When Ware was formally introduced as the newest Broncos pass rusher, he thanked the Cowboys, Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones in his first appearance as a newly-minted Broncos' player. How hard was it for the Cowboys to release him?
Archer: Extremely hard. Jerry Jones isn't one to want to part with stars if it might be a year too early. He's waited a year too late in some cases. I don't doubt Jones was conflicted with the move. Ware is one of his best draft picks in 25 years on the job. He was a guy who was great in the locker room and great in the community and, most importantly, great on the field. Jerry is loyal to guys sometimes to a fault. But I think he was convinced it was time to move on because of Ware's age and cap figure. He could have restructured the deal and pushed more money into the future, but they felt like that would not solve anything. Ware will always be a Cowboy. He'll re-sign with the team in a few years to make sure he retires as a Cowboy and he will go in the Ring of Honor.
In his new locker room, how much can Ware benefit Miller and is this protection in case Miller has another off-field incident?
With Champ Bailey's release, Chris Kuper's retirement and Wesley Woodyard leaving for the Titans in free agency, the Broncos have three former captains no longer on the roster. From your perspective, what can Ware provide on that front?
Archer: He is not the most vocal guy, but he has grown in that area as he has gotten older. When he did speak, guys listened. But I would say he was mostly a lead-by-example type. He played hurt. He probably came back too soon from the quadriceps strain that bugged him last year and that affected his play. He is naturally gifted but he also works even if guys don't see it all the time. As a pass rusher, he's always asking questions and always looking for different ways to attack offensive linemen. It doesn't matter if the guy is on the practice squad or not, Ware will listen to what he has to say. And he's not afraid to tell people what he knows. He'll be good for the offensive line, too. He was always talking to Tyron Smith or Flozell Adams or Doug Free or Marc Colombo about what they did against him or helping them with what he saw they were doing.
I hate the "all-in" term, but are the Broncos making their push with their free-agent signings because they know the window with Peyton Manning is short?
Legwold: Elway's most common response to any question about whether the team is in "win-now" mode is to say "it's win now on" and they didn't mortgage the future, give up draft picks or artificially create cap space to make the signings. Aqib Talib's six-year deal is one the Broncos can get out of after this season with minimal impact to the cap and can get out of after three years with almost no impact on the cap. Safety T.J. Ward signed for less than many expected him to get. And the signings of Talib and Ward carried similar cap charges as the Broncos would have had if Champ Bailey and Kuper were on the roster. They gained $10 million worth of room on the cap with Bailey's release and about $4.1 million worth of room when Kuper retired -- both things happened in the days before free agency opened. They already had $28.7 million or so of workable room even before the Bailey and Kuper moves. So they were not stressed to make the signings and after Andre Caldwell, Ware, Ward and Talib signed, with their draft class taken into account as well, they still had about $10 million in workable cap space for any other moves they want to make.
Elway said this week "we think [Ware] has got a lot of football left him." In the end, how much football did the Cowboys coaches believe Ware had left in him?
Archer: It kind of depends on who you ask, but at the combine Jason Garrett said he has no doubts Ware can be an elite pass rusher again. I don't think that was just coachspeak. Where I think Ware suffered was his lack of practice the last two years. He was banged up with shoulder, elbow, hamstring, quadriceps and stingers during the week that he could not practice. I think he got out of a rhythm and could not get it back. Ware had four sacks in the first three games. He had a pick on the first play of the season. Then the injuries started to wear him down and he wasn't the same player. But I always go back to training camp. He lit up Tyron Smith every day in practice. Every day. It got to the point where you wondered if Smith was going to be considered another offensive line mistake. And then Smith ended the year as one of the best left tackles in football. I think there is plenty of tread left on Ware's tire, but the Broncos will have to be smart in how they use him. I can't see him playing every snap. He will need some rest in games.
Marinelli, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, coached both players to Pro Bowl performances with the Chicago Bears. The duo would help a defensive line that lost DeMarcus Ware (Denver Broncos) and Jason Hatcher (Washington Redskins) the past two days and could lose Anthony Spencer.
Melton is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament. But at the NFL scouting combine last month, Jordan Woy -- Melton's agent, who also represents Hatcher -- said Melton had just started running and should be good for training camp.
Melton played in only three games in 2013, but he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2012 with six sacks and two forced fumbles after a seven-sack season in 2011.
Peppers was cut this week by the Bears because of his $13.9 million base salary and $18.183 million salary-cap figure. He had seven sacks in 2013, but in three years with Marinelli he had 30.5 sacks. He is 34 years old and has not missed a game since 2007.
As with everything, it all comes down to price for the Cowboys. They have the cap room (roughly $7 million) to sign both players, but they will not shell out huge money to a player coming off an injury or an older player, without some sort of protection.
Maybe letting go of star defensive end DeMarcus Ware and productive defensive tackle Jason Hatcher in the last 48 hours isn't an indication of a franchise that doesn't know what it's doing.
Maybe the Cowboys have decided it's time to rebuild with younger talent.
Hatcher's production increased to the point where he had compiled a career-high 11 sacks but was seeking a big-money deal in free agency.
The cap-tight Cowboys weren't going to do it.
Ware's production slipped last season. He had just six sacks and missed three games because of a quad injury.
The Cowboys weren't going to let Ware snag $16 million of their salary cap. So if Ware wasn't going to take a pay cut, then the next option was to let him go.
Denver Broncos. Hatcher inked a four-year deal with the Cowboys' NFC East rival, Washington Redskins.
The Redskins, by the way, are also aiming to lock up another Cowboys free agent in defensive end Anthony Spencer, who is coming off microfracture surgery.
Spencer, who is 30, has a few negatives holding him back regarding a contract from anyone, and those are health and age. And while the Cowboys would like to bring Spencer back, they don't seem to be in a hurry to do so.
For that matter, the Cowboys' signings have focused on backups. The team signed defensive linemen Jeremy Mincy and Terrell McClain along with special teams player Will Herring.
Those signings don't excite a fan base that's still angered by three consecutive 8-8 finishes. Free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton seems to be a perfect fit in this 4-3 scheme, but he hasn't visited Valley Ranch yet.
Maybe the Cowboys understand the frustration of their fan base and have decided to do something about it: Rebuild without telling anybody.
The Cowboys have to draft impactful players who remain on the field for 16 games.
You can't tell me people are happy with former first-round pick Morris Claiborne being on the injury report for 17 weeks in a two-year career.
The Cowboys have struggled at drafting free safeties and are trying to determine if J.J. Wilcox, Matt Johnson and Jeff Heath can become starters.
The team has a good core of young players in Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Orlando Scandrick, Travis Frederick, DeMarco Murray and Terrance Williams ready to more the franchise ahead. All are in their 20s.
Older players such as Jason Witten, Tony Romo, Brandon Carr and Doug Free see significant playing time and at some point, the team will be faced with the challenging decision over whether to release them before contracts run out.
Rebuilding the Cowboys isn't an easy thing; Jerry Jones doesn't even use that word because he has said the franchise is still within striking distance of a playoff spot.
On paper, he's correct. The Cowboys have been eliminated from playoff contention in Week 17 in each of the last three seasons.
If Jones told his fan base the Cowboys are rebuilding and it's going to maybe take two seasons to see results, then this anger toward Valley Ranch would subside.
Previous bad contracts -- the second one to Jay Ratliff and Miles Austin's -- hurt the franchise somewhat with their salary cap. As one agent told me on Friday about the Cowboys: "They are broke and need to draft better."
At the start of free agency, the Cowboys had just $1.1 million in cap room, the lowest in the league. After Ware's release, it increased to $8.5 million.
It's still not enough to do anything in free agency. So what do you do?
In it we discuss Jason Witten, the Cowboys' draft plans and who gets the next big deal from the club.
Remember to look for Part 2 on Saturday. And if you have questions, send them to me via Twitter (@toddarcher:) and use the #cowboysmail hashtag.
Away we go:
Before the newest member of the Dallas Cowboys could be asked about DeMarcus Ware, he brought up Ware’s name.
That’s the Cowboys plan. They gave Mincey a two-year deal worth as much as $4.5 million to be part of a defensive line rotation to replace Ware.
Ware, who was cut by the Cowboys on Tuesday and signed by the Denver Broncos on Wednesday, is the all-time leader in Cowboys’ history with 117 sacks. Mincey has 20 in his career.
“I’m trying to live up to my expectations and the organization’s expectations,” Mincey said. “I didn’t sign a deal like DeMarcus Ware’s so why would you expect me to be D-Ware? That should be out of people’s minds. DeMarcus Ware is definitely a player I do respect and always will respect to the utmost, but I’m just focused on being the best I can be for the Dallas Cowboys.”
In 2011 Mincey had eight sacks and forced four fumbles for the Jacksonville Jaguars. A year later he had three sacks and forced two fumbles in 16 starts. He played eight games for the Jaguars before he was released and ended up with the Broncos, who signed Ware to a three-year, $30 million deal a day after he was released by the Cowboys.
He had four tackles in 18 snaps in the Broncos’ Super Bowl loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Losing in the Super Bowl, “definitely fuels you, especially being that close to victory,” Mincey said. “It feels good to be on a team like Dallas where we’ve got an owner like Jerry (Jones) who will find the right pieces of the puzzle and make it work.”
Mincey hopes to be a piece to the puzzle.
“I’ll do whatever they tell me,” Mincey said. “If they feel like me playing one position and I’m best suited for it, I’ll follow my leader’s lead. I’m sure these guys will put me in a great position to make plays. That’s what I’m trying to do: find the right niche for my game to bring some energy and work ethic and leadership to Dallas.”
He knows the team’s history. He came close to a Super Bowl with Denver but fell short. Jones let him touch one of the Super Bowl trophies in his office before signing his contract.
“When I say I was the largest Cowboys’ fan, I was the largest Cowboys fan,” Mincey said. “I cried when they lost against the 49ers when Deion Sanders was dancing around. I was pissed. That stuck with me.”
Hatcher will be reunited with former defensive linemate Stephen Bowen in Washington. He'll also be returning to a defense that uses a base 3-4 front, though is often in nickel packages. Hatcher flourished as a 4-3 lineman a year ago.
For more insight into this move, ESPN.com Cowboys reporter Todd Archer and Redskins reporter John Keim exchanged questions and answers.
What are the Redskins getting in Hatcher?
Archer: I don't think they're getting a guy who will get them 11 sacks a season, if that's what you're asking. He played defensive end in the 3-4 in the first seven years of his career and never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season. But he might be a good combo mix of a 3-4 end and 4-3 tackle, especially with how much nickel defense teams play these days. He's a three-down player, but he turns 32 in July and you have to wonder how much he has left. You also have to wonder if his season was the result of a contract year. I'm surprised he went to a 3-4 team, honestly.
He's a guy who flourished in a 4-3 now he's going to a 3-4, how will he fit in Washington?
Keim: I think he'll fit nicely (and I'm sure his new deal convinced him a 3-4 was, well, OK). But he won't strictly be a 3-4 end. I'm sure he'll play end in a base package and inside in their nickel package. They used the latter nearly 70 percent of the time last season. I know his role changed in Dallas last year, but I can't believe the Redskins would deviate too much from where he had success as a rusher. And clearly that success came inside, as the Redskins know better than anyone. One team source said Hatcher's inside pressure was the best they'd seen against them in a few years. They lacked the ability to generate much push of their own, with only Barry Cofield a consistent threat. With his nose tackle duties, it's hard for him to stay fresh as a rusher too. The Redskins absolutely needed what he showed he could do last season. There was too much pressure to generate a rush with just their outside linebackers or by blitzing. They got little from the line. He won't need to get 11 sacks, but if he gets in the 5-6 range that would be a big bonus. Really, they need him to push the pocket and be a presence. Not enough of that last season.
Why the sudden jump in sacks?
Archer: Contract year? No, that's too cynical. I think he found a good fit and a coach who really worked with him on pass rushing. In the 3-4 he was basically a hold-the-fort kind of guy and let DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer make the plays outside. He really took to Rod Marinelli in 2013 and I thought he would have stayed in a 4-3 scheme after complaining a little bit about how limited he was in a 3-4. What's funny is that if Jay Ratliff didn't get hurt (or stay hurt) then Hatcher would have likely been the one technique and really not had a chance to get after the passer as much. He was able to break the mold of what Marinelli excels with at the three technique but he did a good job. He does not have a variety of moves but he can close pretty fast for a big guy. But I'll leave it with this: He had 16 sacks in his first seven seasons. To me he's more that guy than a guy who can put up double-digit sacks in multiple years. Maybe he'll prove me wrong.
Was this a move to weaken a division rival?
Keim: Do you really think owner Dan Snyder would revel in signing a player away from the Cowboys and Jerry Jones? OK, so do I. It's always a bonus when a team can poach a player from a division rival. But they felt snagging Cofield from the Giants might weaken them a bit. The Giants still went on to eventually win another Super Bowl. But Hatcher was a good player on a bad defense and it's tough to lose such a guy. The Cowboys' D was weak enough already. That said, it doesn't sound as if Dallas made much of a push to bring him back. I wonder what everyone will think when he's a 34-year-old entering his third season here; what can he do then? But it's reasonable to expect Hatcher to make an impact this season and the next.
What is the impact on the Cowboys, now losing Hatcher along with Ware?
Archer: Well, they were 32nd in the league with those guys, so I guess they can't be worse. Ah, that's too cynical too. I think they made a mistake in not working out a deal for Ware. Now, I wouldn't have done what the Denver Broncos did with $20 million guaranteed, but I think he's got a lot left in him. The Cowboys drew a line with Hatcher and didn't want to cross it. They weren't going to pay him nearly $28 million on a deal, that's for sure. The Cowboys are looking at using waves of players to get to the quarterback -- albeit guys who have never really gotten to the quarterback much. And they're not done adding guys, obviously. Well, they shouldn't be done adding guys. Sean Lee becomes the face of this defense. Now he just has to stay healthy, which he has yet to do. Lee is their best defensive player and playmaker. Personally, I think they'll miss Ware more than Hatcher. Ware was a guy that needed extra attention every week. Hatcher wasn't that guy.
What does this mean for former Cowboy Stephen Bowen?
Keim: I wondered the same thing, but multiple team sources said not to take the next step and assume Bowen won't be here. The problem is, Bowen carries a hefty cap number this year ($7.02 million) and is coming off microfracture surgery. He also turns 30 at the end of this month. Add that up and you'd think he'd be in trouble. But he remains in their plans, so if something is done with his contract I'd still expect him back. Another note and maybe you know this, but apparently he and Hatcher are best friends.
Herring played mostly weak inside linebacker for his 12 snaps, but played some weakside linebacker when Rob Ryan went with a four-man base defense look. His last snap was DeMarco Murray’s touchdown run when Herring was slow to scrape over the top and missed Murray at the 5. Herring was cracked by Dwayne Harris on a running play but did a nice job in coverage on James Hanna and made a quick tackle. On Murray’s long run, Herring tracked down the field to make the stop, showing some hustle. But mostly he had a hard time getting off blocks.
Special teams was a little different, and the Cowboys paid special attention to him. He stopped Harris on a kick return by pushing by Hanna and he stopped Cole Beasley on a squib quick. After that he was double-teamed on back-to-back kickoff returns. The Cowboys doubled him on a punt return, too.
The Saints kept him to the kicker's left but they mixed up his positioning so teams couldn’t get a read on where he would be.
He will help on special teams.