Should Cowboys pursue Finnegan?

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
10:48
AM ET
Free agency is one of several ways for NFL teams to improve their rosters. It offers some solutions to often glaring problems. But it doesn't offer many perfect ones. When a player becomes a free agent, part of the reason is because his former team decided it didn't want him anymore. This can happen for several reasons, many of which have little to do with the quality of the player or the person in question. But the fact is, if you hit the market, you do so (at least in part) because your prior team didn't do what it took to keep you from hitting the market.

Which brings us to the Dallas Cowboys, who need a cornerback, and Cortland Finnegan, a former Tennessee Titans quarterback who's now a free agent. There seems little doubt that Finnegan should be high on the Cowboys' list of free-agent targets along with former Chief Brandon Carr. But any team that looks to sign a free agent wants to know as much as possible about him -- and about why he became a free agent. Fortunately for us, as we contemplate Cowboy needs, we have Paul Kuharsky, the estimable steward of the AFC South blog, to explain to us why Tennessee is letting Finnegan go:
Here's why: They don't think he's a $10 million a year corner. While he's a very good and versatile defensive back, he's not going to single-handedly erase a top receiver every week. Even had the Titans decided to give him the franchise tag, he would have hated it and griped. He's a good guy at heart, and did a lot for the team and the community, but his nasty streak, on and off the field, could show up at bad moments and be unhealthy. The last time he got money, he didn't react to a fatter wallet well.

So there you have it, Cowboys fans. Caveat emptor, which applies to every free-agent pursuit for various reasons. Finnegan would no doubt be a huge upgrade over the 2011 version of Terence Newman, and whatever drawbacks there are to him are likely outweighed by the on-field benefit he'd bring. Just a little reminder that, as much fun as free agency is, it rarely offers flawless fixes.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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