Tuesday, March 5, 2013
But seriously, what'll Dallas do at safety?
By Dan Graziano
I'm not going to sit here and tell you Gerald Sensabaugh was the second coming of Ronnie Lott, or that replacing him has suddenly jumped to the top of the Dallas Cowboys' offseason priority list after they cut him Monday for salary-cap room. Sensabaugh was a decent enough player, but surely not irreplaceable. The Cowboys can, without question, find someone in free agency or even in the early rounds of the draft who could give them in 2013 what Sensabaugh gave them in 2012.
The idea that the Cowboys' starting safeties right now are Barry Church and Matt Johnson ... well, it's not an idea befitting a team that wants to make it to the playoffs, let's just leave it at that. Church showed promise early last year but is coming off an Achilles' injury. Johnson was a seventh-round pick they took in the fourth, and he didn't play a single snap as a rookie. The Cowboys can talk all they want about how good they think Johnson will be, but neither they nor anyone else has seen any proof that he can play in the NFL. They need to augment this situation prior to training camp.
Calvin Watkins has a look at the free-agent landscape at safety, and throws out well-known names such as Ronde Barber, William Moore and O.J. Atogwe as possible Cowboys targets. The safety pool in free agency this year is deep, as is the safety pool in this year's draft. The Cowboys will be able to add to their stable, even if it's not with a well-known name or a first-round pick (which they really should use on an offensive lineman). And if Church and Johnson play well enough to emerge as starters in training camp, then good for the Cowboys and their super-smart scouts.
The key for the Cowboys is to understand they need volume here to create the best possible combination, but not to go too crazy and shoot for a star at a position that doesn't require it. Replacing Sensabaugh isn't the hardest thing Dallas has ever had to do. They just need to make sure they have a candidate or two in place in case Church and/or Johnson can't do it.