I'm going to miss ESPNDallas.com's Cowboys position series when it's gone. We've relied on it a lot over the past week or so for Cowboys content, and I plan on draining every last drop I can out of it. Today's edition is on safeties, and Calvin Watkins specifically takes up the question of whether the Cowboys will or should bring back Abram Elam:
Signing Elam might be a good thing for the Cowboys since he knows Ryan's defensive scheme, but he might want a long-term deal, and that's something the franchise might be unwilling to offer.
That was the point of bringing in Elam a year ago -- that he'd played for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan the year before in Cleveland and could help translate Ryan-speak to those on the Cowboys' defense for those who might have trouble grasping it right away. For a while, it seemed to work well. Elam was a leader on the defense, and the way the Cowboys played defense in the first half of the season led one to believe they were, in fact, picking up Ryan's system rather quickly.
In the end, though, the defense flopped, and the prevailing theory now is that it flopped because it didn't have good enough players. So as the Cowboys look to upgrade as many spots as possible on the defense, they need to treat Elam as they would any other free agent -- weighing his positives against his negatives, factoring in his contract demands, and deciding how important it is to upgrade the safety spot versus cornerback, outside linebacker, etc.
I agree with Calvin that safety isn't a position on which the Cowboys should be spending free-agent dollars, given the likely field and their other needs. So if Elam wants something long-term, the Cowboys are better off looking at lower-rung options and/or finding a safety in the early rounds of the draft. If they can address their pass rush, their cornerback situation, and their offensive line sufficiently in free agency, then maybe they're in a position to draft Alabama's Mark Barron with the No. 14 pick, as Mel Kiper's latest mock draft suggests they could. But the main reason for bringing Elam in a year ago is no longer as compelling as it was then. So they should be open-minded about how to fill his position. He's a candidate, but should be treated as one of several options.