If you are reading this today then you did it. You survived the 2015 Dallas Cowboys season. Pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath because 2016 is looking a lot brighter. In order to think about next season, the coaching staff must decide who they will keep and who they will lose via free agency.
Take a look at my prediction on who will and who will not be wearing that star on their helmet next season.
*RFA (Restricted Free agent)
Players The Cowboys Will Keep for 2016
Yes, I know he has nearly missed 40% of games with the Dallas Cowboys in 4 years, but he has improved. This season something about him made me go, “I like what Morris Claiborne brings to this secondary”. He wants to win and I love the competitive edge he brings to the table. Plus this secondary needs help and if he stays healthy, he is a good option. (Way better than Carr) Plus he wants to come back.
Cowboys do not RELEASE The Kraken. In those terms I strictly mean keep Greg Hardy because Hardy wants to come back. He had this to say, “I would love to stay here”. He can be the difference in the pass rush as you saw in the video above. Hardy had 6 sacks & 1 interception on the 2015 season. Hardy struggled in the last month of the season, but with more to prove in 2016, I expect him to be hungry.
Rolando McClain is a very good middle linebacker when he is interested. What do I mean? If you watched the games, you saw either a motivated or a lazy McClain. When next to Sean Lee he played some great football at times. Best play I saw all season was the pick six he had against the Dolphins, which happened to be Romo's return from injury. So as long as you are playing good football, so is he. Re-sign the run stopping, good in coverage linebacker to a one-year deal and reevaluate it at the end of 2016. Hopefully, he wants to return.
Lance Dunbar/Robert Turbin
Lance Dunbar was on pace for his best season yet after becoming a reliable target out of the backfield from Tony Romo. Once Lance tore his ACL, well that was it for the speedster. Dunbar has ways to change the game and really push this team. If you remember week one when Romo threw the game winning Touchdown to Jason Witten, on that final drive Dunbar was a machine in picking up yards. I believe Romo will fight for him to return if needed.
Robert Turbin didn't play much, but when he did, he played tough. Why not re-sign him to be a backup to McFadden & Dunbar or if you draft a RB, make Turbin the inactive 4th string and have him be ready to go when needed. I believe Turbin returns on a cheap one or two-year deal.
Also staying: James Hanna, Jack Crawford, Jeff Heath, Tyler Clutts, & Ron Leary.
“It's Going, Going, Gone!”
Great leader, but he is 32. Does not play as much as he did last season. Went from having 6 sacks to 0. The defensive line is getting better and Mincey just continues to get worse. Pretty simple, sorry but goodbye Jeremy Mincey.
When Brandon Weeden wasn't getting the job done in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, we all thought Matt Cassel was a way better option. We (including me) were all wrong. Cassel won one game as a Dallas Cowboys starter and lost the rest. Cassel is old and didn't impress…anyone. Goodbye & thanks for trying.
Off his rookie contract and he has yet to impress. He is a backup and I understand that, but we continue to always draft linebackers anyway so why keep him? 25 total tackles all season and plus, I like Damien Wilson. Goodbye and good luck.
Danny McCray was brought back to Dallas in hopes of helping the play on special teams. The problem was he didn't help at all, Danny McCray had only 3 combined tackles this season and he was outplayed by Jeff Heath, who seemed to always make special teams plays and be a valuable player on defense. With that being said, Heath will be signed back over McCray because you can honestly find a rookie to play special teams and for a cheaper cost.
Also leaving: Mackenzy Bernadeau, Charles Brown, Casey Walker, Josh Thomas, & Rodney Smith.