Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Henry

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 2

March, 15, 2014
Mar 15
IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss the move of Brandon Carr from safety to corner, how much of a factor Lance Dunbar can be in the offense and why the Cowboys didn't try to trade DeMarcus Ware.

For Part 1 of the mailbag, click here.

Away we go:


Cowboys chat recap: Why the DB disconnect?

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
IRVING, Texas -- On Wednesday I had my first chat of the offseason, and it’s something we hope to feature weekly. In case you missed it, click here to take a look at what was asked and what was answered.

HappyGilmour (yes, I know that’s not his real name, but he’s asking good questions in our chats) said the Dallas Cowboys haven’t had a good secondary since they had Deion Sanders, and wonders if it is that hard to evaluate cornerbacks and safeties.

Here’s what I said:

You can't say they haven't tried. They drafted Roy Williams in the first round and paid him a big contract. They gave Ken Hamlin a big deal after he made the Pro Bowl. Neither one of those contracts worked out. They drafted Terence Newman in the first round as well as Mike Jenkins and traded up to get Mo Claiborne. They signed Anthony Henry and Brandon Carr to big-time contracts. They've tried but the results have not always worked out ... or still are in the process of working out. It should not be that hard to evaluate corners and safeties, but switching schemes and having corners with certain attributes playing a different style might not have been the smartest decision.

Some of the other topics:

Final Exam: Sit back in free agency

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season, they obviously have a ton of needs.

Every offseason is the same story. Fans get their hopes up that the Cowboys will spend a ton of money in free agency -- even if they don't have a ton to spend -- and go get insert-name-here because that guy has to be better than whatever the Cowboys have on the roster.

The needs are obvious: defensive line, secondary, linebacker and defensive line again. You could always add offensive line help and possibly wide receiver. On an 8-8 team, every position needs help.

But the price matters when it comes to free agency. The Cowboys will be able to get under the salary cap without an issue. They could even get far enough under the cap to be big spenders if they choose.

Here's a word to the wise: don't choose.

The last big-money player the Cowboys signed was cornerback Brandon Carr, who received $50 million over five years in 2012. Is there a smidge of buyer's remorse on that one?

Teams have to overpay in free agency. The Cowboys gave Carr what was the going rate for a cornerback in unrestricted free agency. He has been better than the other big-money corner that year, Cortland Finnegan, but he has not changed the fortunes of the defense. In 2005 the Cowboys gave Anthony Henry the going rate for a cornerback at $5 million a year. He played fairly well with 12 interceptions in four seasons before he was traded for Jon Kitna in 2009.

The Cowboys laid out a huge-free agent contract for Leonard Davis ($7 million a year) and Davis had some solid seasons but not enough of them. He was cut after the 2010 season.

The best way to attack free agency is with moderate priced players. One of the best free-agent signings the Cowboys ever had was La'Roi Glover and in part because of what they paid to get him.

Prime free agents have little chance to earn what their given. Carr slumped in 2013, especially at the end of the season. He will have to be Superman in some eyes to justify the $10 million a year price tag in 2014.

So when you go through the lists of available free-agent defensive ends, defensive tackles, outside linebackers, safeties, running backs, wide receivers and offensive linemen, do not get seduced by the names.

The Cowboys have paid names in the past and it has not worked. They have gambled on up-and-coming players as well, like Carr. It's not too late for him to turn things around. An offseason can be a great refresher.

The best bet for the Cowboys and Jones is to lie low when the market opens.

A Cowboys free-agency primer

March, 12, 2012

IRVING, Texas – At 3:01 p.m. Tuesday, free agency begins.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has promised to be aggressive in pursuit of upgrading a roster that has missed the playoffs the last two seasons and three of the last four.

In order to do so, the Cowboys will have to re-work some contracts to create enough room under the $120.6 million salary cap, but it is feasible the team can add two starters and a veteran backup quarterback and re-sign wide receiver Laurent Robinson.

As the shopping hour approaches, here are some quick questions and answers:

** What are the Cowboys biggest needs?

We’ve talked about this all offseason, but they need help in the secondary (cornerback and safety) and on the interior of the offensive line. They also need a backup quarterback with Jon Kitna’s retirement, and those don’t come too cheaply. They could use a difference maker at defensive end, but those players aren’t flying around free agency. While the Cowboys like Bruce Carter, there is no way to be sold he is their starting inside linebacker next to Sean Lee in 2012. Add inside linebacker to the list. Also add a backup tight end. The goal of free agency should be to fill enough holes to help make the draft process better so you don’t overvalue certain positions in April.

** What to make of the Mario Williams talk?

I just don’t see that happening. In order to sign Williams, the Cowboys would likely have to fork over in the neighborhood of $40 million guaranteed. In other words: DeMarcus Ware money. If they do that, then that would take them out of upgrades elsewhere. Plus, the team placed the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer. This isn’t to debate who is better, Spencer or Williams, but to say who’s the better fit at the price and the chance to fill needs elsewhere. Williams is more dynamic but is just too costly.

** What to do with Laurent Robinson?

The Cowboys have said Robinson is a priority. Robinson, who had 11 touchdowns last year, has said he would love to stay. Both sides want it to happen but if another team wants to blow away Robinson with an offer the Cowboys will not get into a bidding war. It would, however, create the need for a No. 3 receiver. Despite Jones’ talk about Andre Holmes, the Cowboys cannot bank on untested receivers like Holmes, Raymond Radway and Dwayne Harris to pick up the slack.

** Will Jerry Jones make a splash?

In his tenure as owner and general manager, he has made three splashes in free agency in Deion Sanders, Terrell Owens and Leonard Davis. You can put La’Roi Glover in that mix to a degree if you want. That’s it. He had a big one-day signing spree in 2005 on Jason Ferguson, Anthony Henry and Marco Rivera but they weren’t stop-the-presses signings across the league. Jones’ most productive free-agent shopping might have come in 2003 when they added Richie Anderson, Dan Campbell, Toby Gowin and Al Singleton to the roster. Don’t hold your breath on a guy like Williams or New Orleans guard Carl Nicks.

** Will the Cowboys re-sign any of their free agents before the market opens?

Doubtful. League rules prevent them from re-signing Robinson before Tuesday. Mat McBriar’s recent surgery means the two-time Pro Bowl punter will hit the market. They have had some talks with the agent for Keith Brooking but nothing substantial. Abram Elam will be allowed to test the market too. Same with Montrae Holland, who did a nice job at left guard for 10 games.

Cowboys will be active in free agency

February, 27, 2012
IRVING, Texas – Contrary to popular opinion, the Cowboys do not act like the New York Yankees when it comes to unrestricted free agency.

Coop and Nate discuss the latest Cowboys news from the combine, specifically Jerry Jones' comments regarding the team's talent level.

Listen Listen
In the last two years they have signed two unrestricted free agents: Kenyon Coleman and Abram Elam. They signed three players in 2009 but none in 2008.

The Cowboys are currently $12.6 million under the cap and could create enough room by releasing players or restructuring contracts to have as much as $20-25 million in space.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones can’t guarantee the Cowboys will be able to sign players when the market opens March 13, but he does predict they will be a player.

“The way I read it all right now is that we’re going to be active in free agency,” Jones said.

The last mega-money contract Jones doled out in free agency was to Leonard Davis in 2007 ($49 million). In 2005 he shelled out about $30 million in guarantees to Marco Rivera, Anthony Henry and Jason Ferguson.

In other years the Cowboys have gone for quantity over top-quality with some success. In 2003 they added Al Singleton, Richie Anderson, Dan Campbell and Toby Gowin. In 2006 they added Akin Ayodele and Kyle Kosier. (Technically Terrell Owens did not count as an unrestricted free agent because he had been cut by Philadelphia.)

Jones said the new labor agreement between the players and owners will help take out some of the monetary guesswork.

“We have an almost exact understanding of where we’re going to be with our contracts and available room under the cap as we look ahead and where we are right now,” Jones said. “If you fact that into it and use that space up, there’s no gamble. You know exactly what’s out there. Now the true game is if the player should not be the player you think he is and you end up paying more than you should.”

5 Wonders: windows, coaches, Spencer

January, 3, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- The season has ended but 5 Wonders has not. Today we bring you the final weekly installment after an 8-8 season that should have us wondering more than just five things.

Hey, it’s a long offseason and we’ll get to all of them at some point.

But here goes:

** More than ever I believe teams have windows of opportunity and I wonder if the Cowboys missed theirs in 2007. It has not been as good as it was that year when they finished 13-3 and clinched homefield advantage in the NFC. They lost to the New York Giants, 21-17, and you can rehash all of the reasons why if you want. In 2008, the Cowboys showed up on Hard Knocks and too many players assumed they would just be crowned champs. In 2009, they showed backbone late in the year and won a playoff game. In 2010, Wade Phillips was fired after a 1-7 start. In 2011, they let a 7-4 record and first place in the NFC East slip away with an 8-8 finish. Their best players are getting older and the drafts of 2007-10 have contributed seven starting-type players and four other quality backups out of 32 selections.

The Cowboys are 120-120 in their last 240 games. Coop asks why do we even care? It will remain the same as long Jerry Jones is the GM.

Listen Listen
**I wonder how Jason Garrett approaches some hard decisions that could be made on his coaching staff. He was able to do it with players once the lockout ended when he decided to part ways with Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Marion Barber and Roy Williams. He did it before the season started when he wanted to move on from Andre Gurode. He would not get into the future look of his staff on Monday, but some changes have to be made. He has known Dave Campo and Hudson Houck for nearly 20 years and they share Super Bowl memories. Last year, Garrett tried to woo Pittsburgh’s Ray Horton but Horton became Arizona’s coordinator instead, which kept Campo as the secondary coach. Tony Sparano is available and he and Garret worked well together in 2007. Houck is not under contract in 2012 but has said he will coach as long as he is wanted. The Cowboys need to improve in the secondary and along the offensive line. Garrett gets paid to make tough decisions. These two could be his toughest.

** The chance of the Cowboys re-signing outside linebacker Anthony Spencer appears slim, so it had me wondering two things: Can Victor Butler be an every down player and who was the last first-round pick the Cowboys let walk on their rookie contract? Bobby Carpenter doesn’t count because he was traded before his rookie deal ended. First Butler: I don’t know and I don’t know how the Cowboys could know. He’s been a niche player in his first three years and has a knack for getting to the passer, but in that strong-side outside backer role you have to be stout against the run and not a run-around guy. Maybe Butler can do it, but I’d look for a guy in the draft if they don’t bring Spencer back. (And I realize many of you can’t believe there would be an “if” after the way the season ended). This brings us to the second question. And the answer is: Ebenezer Ekuban, the first rounder from 1999. After the 2003 season he left for Denver.

** I wonder how the Cowboys will attack free agency in March. Contrary to popular opinion, Jerry Jones does not throw around money here, there and everywhere at unrestricted free agents. He has done it from time to time with Deion Sanders and Leonard Davis. You can count Terrell Owens, too. Before the 2005 season he signed Anthony Henry, Marco Rivera and Jason Ferguson to sizeable contracts. The only reason the Cowboys got involved in the Nnamdi Asomugha battle was because the price was lower than they expected. It was how they got La’Roi Glover. Free agency is not the cure-all people believe it is. The best way to approach free agency is with prudence. You don’t have to bargain shop, but the newest toy is not always the best buy. So as you put together your free agent lists, keep that in mind.

** The Cowboys will travel to Cincinnati next year and I wonder if the NFL would consider making that the London game in 2012. Here’s why: the Bengals sold out two games in 2011 and needed a two-for-one special to do it for the Week 17 game vs. Baltimore. The other sellout came against Pittsburgh with the Steelers’ fans filling Paul Brown Stadium. It could be a good sell overseas, too. The Bengals will be coming off a playoff appearance and the Cowboys are the Cowboys. At least in name anyway. Here’s why it won’t happen: The Bengals would not want to give up a sure sellout at home because this is Dallas’ only guaranteed trip in an eight-year run. The Cowboys have played in front of 158 straight sellout crowds, including 79 on the road. Will it happen? Probably not but it’s something to think about.