There’s a certain fallacy to saying that NFL free agency begins today, given how much news has already come out in the last 48 hours. However, none of it is official until 4:00 pm EST and even the handshake agreements we’ve already seen reported could suddenly evaporate.
Outside of giving restricted free agent tenders to Jeff Heath and Ron Leary the Cowboys have made little news so far. Will that change today? As we all await the action, here are some final thoughts on how I think Dallas should approach free agency.
It’s been apparent that Dallas intends to let Greg Hardy leave. However, given recent developments in the defensive end market, could they be having second thoughts?
Defensive ends Mario Williams, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Charles Johnson have all already agreed to deals. That leaves Olivier Vernon, Robert Ayers, and Adrian Clayborn as the top names with some other decent options behind them.
Take all personal issues aside and Hardy is probably the best talent on the market. He turns 28 this year and has proven himself on the field more than any remaining options. You could chalk up his lack of performance last season to all of the stress and distraction that came from his personal life, hoping that another year removed would allow him to fully recapture his former level of play.
I think Jason Garrett’s cold, detached statement that “Greg Hardy is a free agent” a few weeks ago said everything about where he stands on Hardy’s return. However, the same owner/general manager that added Hardy last year is still here. If Jerry Jones feel Hardy is their best option then Garrett may have to deal with it.
If Dallas is truly done with Hardy then I expect they’ll add one of Ayers or Clayborn when the market opens. I also expect one of their own free agents, either Jack Crawford or Jeremy Mincey, to be re-signed.
Carr & Claiborne
Stephen Jones has said that the Cowboys want to bring back cornerback Morris Claiborne. Dallas will need answers from soon or else they could miss out on other options to replace him. With news breaking this morning Rolando McClain’s return then perhaos a Claiborne announcement is also coming soon.
There’s also the lingering question of what’s going to happen with Brandon Carr. The assumption that he will be released becomes less solid every day that passes. Perhaps the Cowboys are still wanting to find a way to keep him and lower his cap figure, either through a negotiated pay cut or by extending the deal and spreading money out over more years.
I’ve always felt like keeping Carr and re-signing Claiborne were mutually exclusive. Not only did they seem financially incompatible but it would mean, essentially bringing back the same cast who has struggled greatly the last two years.
However, sometimes free agency turns into a classic case of “the Devil you know.” If Dallas is unwilling to pay what guys like Janoris Jenkins or Casey Hayward are asking for then how much better are the remaining options from what you already have?
Here are some final quick-hit considerations for today:
- Colt McCoy was my favorite backup QB option and he’s just re-signed with Washington. I can’t say there’s anyone else in play who stands clearly above Kellen Moore as an option. Last year I would’ve sworn Matt Cassel was a superior backup QB and we saw how that ended.
- Lance Dunbar is a forgotten man these days but maybe we should be paying him a little more attention. There’s no free agent who matches his skill set and Dallas may be looking to bring him back. That said, Dunbar’s return shouldn’t change much about how they approach the position.
- If Nick Hayden was coming back I think he’d already be signed. He’s the kind of player who I think would jump at a contract from Dallas if one was actually on the table. This may be a sign that the Cowboys look be looking to find an upgrade.
I’m sure the unofficial news will continue rolling in as the day progresses and things will get really fun tonight and tomorrow. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @CowboysAddicts for my ongoing commentary and reaction to free agency developments as they come.