Monday, March 31, 2014
Re-setting Cowboys' free-agent needs
By Todd Archer
IRVING, Texas – With pro days going on just about every day the focus for most teams is now the NFL draft, which is five weeks away, but free agency never sleeps.
The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of needs and have the chance to get players at their price. At the top of the list of needs are defensive end, safety, interior offensive line and wide receiver.
Using Bill Polian’s free-agent tracker as a guide, let’s take a look some of the available players and whether they could be fits for the Cowboys.
More than once in the offseason Jerry Jones has said he likes the safety group, so maybe this isn’t as much as a need in the team’s eyes than it is for everybody else. They invested a third-round pick in J.J. Wilcox last year and believe he can grow into the spot.
Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta: Struggled in coverage in 2013 and might not be able to run as well as needed, but he’s only 29.
Steve Gregory, New England: He’s a pretty versatile player, who can still do pretty well in coverage.
Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh: If the Steelers chose to keep Will Allen over him, and the Cowboys cut Allen during last year, then that should say something of any interest the Cowboys would have.
They signed Jeremy Mincey but they can still throw numbers at the position to go with Tyrone Crawford and George Selvie. The draft is another spot where they could find help, especially in a true right defensive end.
Anthony Spencer, Cowboys: The question is the knee rehab. The longer he is available the better it would seem for the Cowboys.
Robert Ayers, Denver: He’s been linked to the Cowboys but a visit has not been planned. More of a left defensive end type, but has some ability.
Jason Hunter, Oakland: More of a situational player than anything else, so might not have enough value.
They like their top three interior linemen in Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick and Mackenzy Bernadeau, but they don’t have much in reserve. Finding a versatile player in free agency at a low cost could be something to watch.
Kyle Cook, Cincinnati: A starter for the Bengals for the last few years, he can also play some guard. He is a fit in a zone scheme.
Fernando Velasco, Pittsburgh: Played center for the Steelers last year and has experience at guard.
Rich Ohrnberger, San Diego: He can play all three interior spots as well.
Jason Garrett did not sound like a guy in a rush to find a veteran receiver based on his comments at the NFL owners meetings, but what happens if Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams get hurt? Looking for an outside receiver with some slot ability makes sense.
Nate Burleson, Detroit: A little old and a little hurt, but he knows what Scott Linehan is looking for and can help a young group.
Jason Avant, Philadelphia: Terrific locker room guy and can play inside and outside.
Earl Bennett, Chicago: Another guy with position flexibility but not the burner to make plays down the field.