Just in case anyone was missing info on who the free agents are this year, here’s a list as taken from DC.com.
The Cowboys face some tough decisions with regards to each of these players, and considering the team has some solid needs at certain positions, look for the Cowboys to make some moves that most of us won’t agree with.
|UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS||RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS|
* OG Joe Berger
* WR Miles Austin
* Number one in that category would probably be Cory Proctor. His abysmal play in 2008 cost us many things, but above all it taught us that Kosier was sorely missed, and then that Holland was almost as missed as Kosier was. Behind Kozier the Cowboys didn’t lose this year, though that’s not saying much since he only played in three regular season games.
Cory Proctor is the first backup at center behind Pro Bowler Andre Gurode, and for his ability to play at both positions, Proctor will likely be retained assuming his price doesn’t climb too high. Something tells me teams won’t be breaking the bank for this guy. Holland played much better than Proctor, but again, a backup center with experience is still needed even after Holland is resigned.
* Another one of the concerns is backup quarterback, and while Brad Johnson is not a free agent, it’s almost safe to say that he will be sometime in the coming months after such miserable play. So that leaves Brooks Bollinger, a younger quarterback with backup written all over him. He too lacked any real production during Romo’s three game sit, but he was better than Johnson. Bollinger managed to drive the team to a touchdown against the Giants in week 9, which was the only time he looked comfortable behind center.
There are a lot of quarterbacks available in free agency this year, and few available within reach in the draft, but the free agents are mostly guys looking for a chance to start, which is virtually impossible here given Romo’s contract and performance. So I think the Cowboys are going to take a look at each available quarterback before the draft, and if another backup to go with Bollinger isn’t found, they’ll draft one in the later rounds. In either case, I believe the team will resign Bollinger since he did show some marked improvement once he got more practice snaps with the first team.
* Chris Canty has been an issue all off-season. Talks have been on-going throughout the past year between the Cowboys, Canty, and his agent, to work out a contract extension for him, but most of us are aware of his agent’s words that he wants Tommy Kelly kind of money. It’s no question that he contributed to the defense in 2008, just as it’s no question that he isn’t deserving of the kind of money he’s looking for.
To make matters worse, he spoke publicly recently and said that he has always been and will always be a Parcels kind of guy, which seems to point toward Canty actively pursuing a spot with the Dolphins. No matter what though, given that the contract talks have basically stalled here, he will test the market to see what he can get.
* Keith Davis, who last year departed the Cowboys for the Dolphins in a similar situation to Canty’s, returned to Dallas after losing out on the starting job in Miami. Upon his return he was immediately named a team captain and resumed his roles as the special teams leader and backup strong safety. Injuries thrust him into the starting line up by week 5, and he started all but three games after that. This includes the end of the year when he suffered a third degree sprain of his MCL without missing a full game from the injury.
His strength is as a role player, special teams ace and backup safety, and his abilities in both aspects warrant signing him to a long term deal. I expect him to test the market once more though before settling for his role in Dallas.
* Miles Austin is another concern for the club, but only because they have to wait and see who offers what for him. the Cowboys are expected to place a second round tender on Austin, giving them the right of first refusal should another team make him an offer, and if the Cowboys choose not to match the offer, they would receive a 2009 second round pick as compensation. His inability to stay healthy last year is an issue, but he will most likely be resigned. His upside is still substantial and he should make an impact and a bid for more playing time in 2009 as long as he can stay healthy.
* The only other real concern lies at the middle linebacker position since both Zach Thomas and Kevin Burnett are unrestricted free agents come February 27th. Thomas stated after the season ending loss to Philly that he didn’t feel comfortable at his position, the Will linebacker, since he had played his entire career as a Mike linebacker, the spot currently held by should-be Pro Bowler Bradie James. Look for the aging Thomas to explore his options in free agency, though don’t rule him out to return next year.