Dallas Cowboys Have Caused Little Noise During Free Agency
When the 2015 NFL offseason activities started a couple of weeks ago the Dallas Cowboys had a total of 23 free agents that decisions needed to be made on. Out of those 23 players the Cowboys have managed to get deals done with only six of them and used their franchise tag on wide receiver Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys still have a few players left from last years team on their free agency list that could possibly get signed in weeks to come. So far though during the free agency period they have seen the majority of their unrestricted free agents sign with other teams.
To replace the players the Cowboys have lost to other teams, the Cowboys front office has brought in some pretty solid players that can be real difference makers as long as they can stay healthy and out of trouble.
The one player that has caused the biggest uproar amongst Cowboys fans is defensive end Greg Hardy. A lot of fans seem to overlook how good Hardy is on the field and only want to judge him for the trouble that he has recently been in.
Hardy was recently released by the Carolina Panthers after spending last season on the commissioners exempt list for his off field behavior. Hardy supposedly had an altercation with a girlfriend that resulted in him being found guilty by a North Carolina judge last May after the Panthers used their franchise tag that fully guaranteed the Pro Bowl defensive end $13 million.
Hardy started Week 1 of the season for the Panthers but was deactivated for Week 2 after fans around the league made such an uproar when Running back Adrian Peterson was placed on the commissioners list for his behavior off the field.
After Hardy was forced to miss Week 2 he was put on the commissioners list before Week 3 of the season. Hardy has remained on that list since then even though the charges he was appealing were dropped in February when his accuser stopped cooperating with the authorities.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can’t seem to let this deal with Hardy go and is pushing his own investigation on the matter. If Goodell does for some reason find reason to punish Hardy, he could possibly be facing a six game suspension next season.
Knowing the way the commissioner works played a favor in the hands of the Cowboys when they made their deal with Hardy. Even though Hardy’s deal can be worth up to roughly $13 million, it is pretty much strictly based on performance and making the roster from week to week. If Hardy does not play, he will not get paid.
Why fans are mad about the Hardy signing is a good question. It seems like one of the smartest deals Cowboys management has made in a long time. At least they will not be giving money to a player that is not playing or positively contributing.
Running back Darren McFadden has also been a player that was signed that has some fans scratching their heads. McFadden spent his first seven years playing for the Oakland Raiders where he has been injured a great deal of that time.
The Cowboys signed McFadden shortly after DeMarco Murray signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Like Hardy, McFaddens deal is one that will not really hurt the Cowboys if things do not work out.
McFadden signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys that will pay him up to $5.85 million and a $200,000 bonus. If he gets injured or for some reason has to be cut, McFadden will not be a huge loss like it would be if the team would have decided to overpay Murray.
Along with signing McFadden, the Cowboys also signed fullbacks Ray Agnew and Jed Collins. By signing Agnew and Collins more than likely means that Tyler Clutts days in the Cowboys backfield are over.
Clutts played a huge role in opening holes for Murray last season and providing protection for quarterback Tony Romo. Agnew and Collins will have to provide the same output Clutts did if they expect to stay in Dallas very long.
Other players that have been signed by the Cowboys this offseason are:
OT R.J Dill
Dill signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys after spending two years in the league with the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots.
OT Ryan Miller
Miller signed a two-year deal with the Cowboy. Miller has only spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers, and Denver Broncos even though he was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 draft.
S Keelan Johnson
Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys after being cut last season by the Philadelphia Eagles. Overall Johnson has only played in two games during the two seasons he has been in the league.
LB Keith Rivers
Rivers signed a one-year deal that will pay him roughly $660,000. The Cowboys makes the fourth team for Rivers in seven seasons. This might be a make or break season for him.
LB Jasper Brinkley
Brinkley signed a two-year deal earlier in March. The Cowboys make the third team for Brinkley in seven seasons. If anything he can probably go back to the Minnesota Vikings if things do not work out in Dallas.
CB Corey White
The Cowboys claimed White off waivers from the New Orleans Saints. White could be a huge addition as long as he can actually make a few plays.
Cornerback is the one position the Cowboys have struggled at over the years. It will not take much for White to impress coaches. With Sterling Moore now suiting up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, White will be able to step in immediately as a replacement.
LB Andrew Gachkar
Gachkar signed a two-year deal that will pay him roughly $5.5 million. Gachkar spent his first four seasons with the San Diego Chargers where he played in 63 games.
LS Casey Kreiter
Kreiter was cut last season by the Cowboys in August. He recently signed a new deal with the team but will have to compete with L.P. Ladouceur for the long snapping job.
P Tom Hornsey
Hornsey signed a two-year deal with the Cowboys in late February. He could end up being the Cowboys punter next season if another team offers Chris Jones a higher tender than the one the Cowboys did.
Unrestricted Free Agents
RT Doug Free
Free signed a three-year deal worth roughly $15 million to stay with the Cowboys. Free has turned out to be a solid lineman and a crucial part of the Great Wall of Dallas II.
DT Nick Hayden
Hayden signed a one-year deal to stay with the Cowboys. Hayden has spent the last two seasons where he has played in all 32 games. Overall Hayden has played for the Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, and Carolina Panthers during the six seasons he has been in the league.
Restricted Free Agents
WR Cole Beasley
The Cowboys re-signed Beasley to a four-year deal that will pay him roughly $13 million. Not a bad payday for a young receiver that really made an impact on a Cowboys team that needed another playmaker Tony Romo can depend on when he gets the ball.
During the three seasons Beasley has played for the Cowboys he has made 91 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns in 40 games. Beasley also made seven receptions for 101 yards and four key first downs during two playoff games last season.
The Cowboys have also issued tenders to running back Lance Dunbar and punter Chris Jones. They have already seen safety Sterling Moore accept a tender with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year deal.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
LG Ronald Leary
Leary signed a one-year tender to stay with the Cowboys. Leary has spent the past three seasons with the Cowboys where he has played in 31 games.
OT Darrion Weems
Weems signed a one-year tender to stay with the Cowboys. Weems has spent three seasons with the team but has not seen much action.
OLB Cam Lawrence
Lawrence signed a one-year tender to stay with the Cowboys. Lawrence has spent his first two seasons in the league with the Cowboys where he has made 25 total tackles, and one sack in 27 games.
Out of the Cowboys free agents left they really need to get a deal done with linebacker Rolando McClain, and safety C.J. Spillman. McClain stepped up huge last year when the team lost Sean Lee for the season with a knee injury while Spillman wrecked havoc for the Cowboys on special teams.
McClain pretty much saw his career comeback to life last season after being written off by pretty much every team in the league when he retired twice. It does not make any sense for the Cowboys not to make a deal with him.
If anything McClain will be a perfect replacement for Lee again. Lee has not made it through a season without getting injured. At least having McClain ready to go, the Cowboys will be prepared for when Lee goes down.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer is also still on the market. He was on the market last season and failed to draw attention from very many teams since he was still recovering from surgery. This season he is failing to draw much attention since he did not make much of an impact when he finally was able to get on the field last season. With all the money the Cowboys have tied up in Spencer they might as well sign him to another deal.
The Cowboys should also consider signing another running back. McFadden is a risk and neither Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle have proven that they can carry the load. If Cowboys management does not sign one of the free agent backs left, they need to spend a top draft pick on a running back. It probably would not hurt trying to move up to get Melvin Gordon or even Ameer Abdullah.
It’s tough though to spend a top pick on a running back when the defense needs the attention that it needs. It would not be very surprising either if the Cowboys decided to spend their first round pick on another offensive lineman like they have in recent years.