Many critics of the Cowboys 2011 draft class are quick to point out that the Cowboys defensive needs were not addressed, in particular the defensive backfield, especially in the early rounds of the draft. To me, the Cowboys developed their board based on their assessments of the prospects this year, and the defensive back class were not that strong. So, the Cowboys went more the offensive side of the ball.
That being said, the Cowboys will undoubtedly have to fill our defensive needs via free agency and look no further than the secondary. I think you can say upgrades can be coming across the board, coverage was atrocious and there aren’t any playmakers back there. Mike Jenkins might be the safest from the bunch, with youth on his side, and the consensus is that last year was more of a slump year than anything else. Terence Newman on the other hand is getting up in age, and so is his pay scale against the cap. Gerald Sensabaugh could be back, but that depends on if Ryan wants him back or if Sensabaugh wants to re-sign. We know the Alan Ball to safety experiment was a colossal failure, so that’s definitely getting upgraded.
So who will Dallas look at?
Brodney Pool – 6’2”, 210lbs, 27
Pool would be a welcomed addition to the secondary, and likely play SS for us. Pool was coached under Ryan during their stints in Cleveland, so if Pool is a legitimate target, no one would know better than Ryan. He has youth on his side, and would be an immediate upgrade at safety for us.
Michael Huff – 6’1”, 205lbs, 28
Huff is another option for us at the safety position who is coming off one of his best season’s in Oakland. Huff would likely play FS for us, and like Pool, Huff has played for Ryan and knows the schemes.
Eric Weddle - 5’11”, 200lbs, 26
Weddle is the best safety in this free agent class, and will demand a hefty payoff. Weddle has youth, and considered by most to still have more to offer by the time he reaches his prime. Weddle is an interesting free agent, but it could take a new CBA for this to be a more logical selection for us. If football restarts with the 2010 league rules, Weddle’s services will be costly and that’s because he was tendered right before the CBA expired in March. The Chargers gave him a 1st round tender, meaning if the Cowboys wanted him they would forfeit their 2012 1st round pick.
Abram Elam - 6’0”, 207lbs, 29
Elam was in Dallas in 2006, and has kind of been a journey man since his time in the league. He’ll be 30 in October, but could play a role in Ryan’s defense. Elam played for Ryan in Cleveland, so there’s the familiarity factor as well with Elam. Elam is versatile enough to play either the FS or SS position
To me, those are the targets for the Cowboys, just on the fact of their play making ability, and the familiarity with Ryan’s defense with the players like Pool, Huff, and Elam. Any combination of the above mentioned would definitely bring some stability to a rattled secondary.
What about Newman?
Ah the next biggest question, and next biggest rumor with surround Nnamdi Asomugha, and whether or not to sign him to possibly the biggest contract for a corner back ever. As tempting as this signing would be, I don’t see Dallas signing him, and the reason is his age. He’ll be 30 by the time the season starts. Ironically enough, Newman was 30 in 2008 when he got his new contract which completes in 2014. Do you really want to sign another 30 year old cornerback to a huge contract? Not me; however, Jerry evidently has done this before and could very well make a splash and sign Asomugha.
I think Dallas goes another year with Newman and Jenkins, and the safety spots being completely revamped and upgraded, this should help out. Add in the factor that Rob Ryan’s scheme’s will bring more pressure up front which in turn should make for more plays in the secondary.
With the upgrades in the secondary, this will allow us to concentrate our 2012 draft on the defensive line, or maybe the cornerback to upgrade Newman.
What about the Defensive Line?
Don’t expect Marcus Spears to be re-signed. I think the Cowboys must have a plan in place since they didn’t draft any defensive lineman in the draft. Let’s remember the Cowboys tendered Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher with 2nd round tenders before the CBA expired, so we’ll see how a new CBA comes into play going forward, but they will be in the mix. Its goin to be interesting to see how the Cowboys address the defensive line. They could very well be happy with what they have right now compared to the free agents that are out there right now.