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Cowboys’ Job Security: Secondary & Special Teams

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Cowboys’ Job Security: Secondary & Special Teams

With eight games in and at least eight to go, it seemed a fine time to evaluate the roster. There are many different perspectives you can go with, but if you know me at all then you know I love to put my General Manager hat on. Today we’re going to look at players within the context of job security, the likelihood that they will still be Cowboys next season.

We’ve been going through the entire roster the last few days. If you missed any of those articles, here are some easy links so you can catch up:

We wrap up today with the defensive backs and our special teams players.

CORNERBACKS

Morris Claiborne – 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

Claiborne has played well enough, and stayed healthy enough, this year to keep Dallas interested in his services. He turns just 26 in February and could be a solid starter for the next three or four years. There’s certainly room for a superior player as your top corner, which they may already have in Byron Jones, but Claiborne would be a welcome number-two corner on most teams.

Things have worked out well for Dallas to have leverage at the negotiating table, also. Claiborne hasn’t been so good that teams will be in hot pursuit in free agency. Assuming he still wants to be a Cowboy, Claiborne should be happy with the security of a multi-year offer at a reasonable starter’s salary. If his agent tries to play hardball, though, I wouldn’t hesitate to let him go finish his career elsewhere.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 75%

Orlando Scandrick – Signed through 2019

Even if they wanted to, Scandrick’s contract doesn’t offer much financial value for a release until at least 2018. There’s no reason to think he won’t be back next season, having a full year to recover from his injury. You have to worry a little about his ability play slot corner after a major knee injury, given how much shifting and change of direction is involved. Given the money, though, it’s a concern that Dallas will have to live with for now.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Brandon Carr – Signed through 2017

Dallas can free up anywhere from nearly $10 to $7 million in cap space by cutting Carr next year. He has not been bad this year, but you rarely see teams passing on that kind of cap relief unless the player is truly special. They may try again to seek a reduced contract with him, but Carr and his agent were not entertaining the idea last offseason. Assuming they keep that stance going forward, Dallas likely has no choice but to part ways.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 25%

Byron Jones – Signed through 2018

I wasn’t entirely sure which spot to put Jones in, given how much he plays safety. What’s so interesting about him is that even though he may be most ideally skilled to play safety, Jones may also be the best cornerback on the team by next year. That flexibility is actually huge for Dallas, allowing them to pursue either position next year and get the best option for the entire secondary. After what was arguably his breakout game last week against the Eagles, Jones appears in line to impress us more and more as the season continues.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Corey White – 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

White has put in some solid work so far in Dallas and could be attractive to teams in free agency. You know Dallas loves his versatility as a corner or safety option, so I think they will look to bring him back. Hard to say what can happen on the open market, though.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 60%

Tyler Patmon – Signed through 2016

Patmon did not build on last year’s unexpected rookie success, having now lost his spot on the depth chart to White. I think he’ll be back to compete for a job and his experience will be a plus. Hopefully he finds ways to grow his game.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 75%

SAFETIES

Barry Church – Signed through 2016

Dallas can save close to $3 million by cutting Church next year. It’s a move that may not come initially but is highly possible after free agency or even the draft. Dallas has to get more dynamic in its safety play. Moving Byron Jones there would help, but there’s a case to be made for upgrading both spots.

Church is a very solid player and better consistently than J.J. Wilcox, but the financial issues work against him. $3 million goes a long way toward paying a free agent upgrade in his first year. He probably returns to start for more one more year, but I think it’s almost equally possible for him to released.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 60%

J.J. Wilcox – Signed through 2016

Even if he’s a backup next year, Wilcox shouldn’t be going anywhere. He’s due just $847k next year and would be a fantastic backup and special teamer at that price. He could also wind up starting if Dallas elects to cut Church. It’s been a good thing that Jones has been worked in at safety so much this year, somewhat weening Wilcox off his starting spot if need be.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Jeff Heath – 2016 Restricted Free Agent

Heath’s work on special teams will likely keep him around for at least one more year. Assuming Dallas looks to get better and deeper at safety, which they absolutely should, I see Heath becoming the new Danny McCray as almost a pure specialist with little role on the actual defense. He’d be the fourth safety, at best.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 75%

Danny McCray – 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

As just mentioned, I see Heath moving down into McCray’s role next year. He’s still young enough that Dallas could bring him back for a year or two, but hopefully they’re going to be looking to get better overall at safety.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 10%

SPECIALISTS

Dan Bailey – Signed through 2020

Recently I’ve seen Kelsey Charles, formerly of DallasCowboys.com, trying to coin the nickname “Dan Nailey” for our kicker. I’m sorry, but that sounds too much like a porn actor’s name.

Last week I tried Dan “Middle Man” Bailey, because that’s where all his kicks go. If you support this idea, make sure to use it on your own social media!

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

Chris Jones – Signed through 2017

I’m appreciating Jones more and more as he stays in Dallas. He’s exceptionally good at directional punts and landing the ball on or near the sidelines. His distance has also improved over the last few years. There will always be a certain threat of competition when a young leg is brought in to camp, but Jones is as entrenched as ever in his job.

 

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 90%

L.P. Ladouceur – Signed through 2017

If you didn’t know, the L.P. stands for “La Perfeccion.” Ladouceur is flawless in his work and will have a place in Dallas until he decides to retire. Given what he’s asked to do, there’s no reason he couldn’t play until upper 30s and even low 40s if health and desire allow.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 90%

 

Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I’ll be sure to respond!

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