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Thursday, March 4, 2010
Free agent series: Safety

By Calvin Watkins


We are nearing the end of our free agent series. Today we check out the safeties.

Gerald Sensabaugh
The Cowboys aren't sure Gerald Sensabaugh is worth a long-term deal.
The Cowboys have two safeties, Gerald Sensabaugh and Pat Watkins, who are restricted free agents.

Should they keep them? Yes, especially Sensabaugh.

What should they pay? Kevin Conner, Sensabaugh's agent, said this week he would like a long-term deal for his client, and the Cowboys have expressed an interest there. But the Cowboys might feel slightly burned by what they did with free safety Ken Hamlin.

He signed a one-year contract in 2007 and compiled career-highs in tackles (102), pass breakups (14) and interceptions (five). Hamlin was rewarded with a six-year, $39 million deal with a $9 million signing bonus.

But Hamlin has been average the last two seasons, and now it appears his status with the team is in doubt. Of Hamlin's $5.596 million base salary, $1.09 million is guaranteed. But if you get rid of Hamlin, who replaces him? Alan Ball filled in for four games while Hamlin recovered from a high-ankle sprain.

The Cowboys don't want to face the same situation with Sensabaugh. The best thing, at least for now, is to give him a second-round tender of $1.809 million or a first-round tender of $2.621 million.

Watkins is a trusted special teams player who has never moved from backup to starter. Dallas could let Watkins go, espeically with several young players on the roster who could push for more playing time, which could come on special teams.

If Watkins gets a tender, it could be a second-rounder at $1.759 million or possibly a minimum deal.

Who is out there? If the Cowboys release Hamlin, drafting one is a strong possibility. However there are some free agents out there, including Bryan Scott, Sean Jones, Melvin Bullitt and former Cowboy Abram Elam.