I will be doing a series of articles that will be taking a methodical team-by-team approach to next year’s possible free agents. I will be starting with the team that has the least amount of salary cap space and ending with the team with the most. I will try to give a brief description of as many of the possible free agents as I can. I will also be looking for players that might be salary cap cuts in order for their teams to make room to sign some of these possible free agents. Any information anyone else can contribute on these players would be very much appreciated.
I am starting with the Cowboys who are currently projected to be $10,754,938 OVER the cap (all salary info via Over The Cap). The Cowboys would save $5,100,000 by cutting (pre-June 1) or trading Tony Romo. He is their highest priced player, and has been supplanted as their starting quarterback by rookie sensation Dak Prescott. They could save an additional $7,400,000 by cutting or trading 34-year old tight end Jason Witten, who will be in the last year of his contract. The Cowboys are upside down on a lot of contracts so I think their only way of getting any real cap space would be by renegotiating some of those contracts.
Dollar figures listed are the player’s 2016 cap hit.
ILB Rolando McClain - $2,639,706
The Cowboy’s free agent with the highest salary in 2016 is inside linebacker Rolando McClain who was suspended for the first ten games of this season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He was also suspended for four games in 2015. He is a very good linebacker and at 27 is at the prime of his life but can he stay on the field? Dallas signed him this year for a team friendly contract that included per game bonuses and a $1,000,000 playing time incentive and it doesn’t look like he is earning much of that money. I would love to have McClain if I thought there was any chance of him staying on the field.
CB Morris Claiborne - $2,687,500
Morris Claiborne was having arguably his best year as a cornerback before he reportedly tore a bone off his pelvis. It is still uncertain whether he will return this year. Morris is 26 years old and was drafted by Dallas in the first round of the 2012 draft. His 2017 salary was a sizable drop from the $5,175,069 he made in 2015. Morris Claiborne is presently the eighth ranked corner by PFF.
RG Ronald Leary – $2,553,000
Ronald Leary is a 27 year old disgruntled left guard that lost his job to first round draft pick La’el Collins in 2015. He is 6’-3” and weighs 330 pounds and was an undrafted free agent out of Memphis. Next year will be his fifth season in the NFL. Leary has been filling in for an injured Collins and is rated as the sixteenth best guard in the NFL by PFF, which is considerably better than any of the guards we presently have on the niners.
SS Barry Church – $2,206,750
Barry Church is a 6’2” 218 pound strong safety that was originally an undrafted free agent out of Toledo, and was picked up by the Cowboys in 2010. He has been sidelined with an arm injury but is active again. He is currently rated as the nineteenth best safety by the PFF. He will turn 29 in February.
QB Mark Sanchez – $2,000,000
Mark Sanchez is a 30-year old quarterback out of USC who was drafted by the Jets in the first round of the 2009 draft. He is an average quarterback at best who has had some prior success in Chips Kelly’s offense. He might be interesting to look at as a backup.
43OLB Andrew Gachkar - $1,900,000
Andrew Gachkar is a 4-3 outside linebacker with no sacks. I am not sure if he would be able to move to ILB in our 3-4 system?
RB Darren McFadden - $2,150,000
I think we can skip this one.
RB Lance Dunbar - $1,031,250
Another dead end, I think even Mike Davis would be a better choice.
43DE Jack Crawford – $1,100,000
Another player that I don’t think fits in our system.
TE Gavin Escobar - $1,339,703
He hasn’t done much since being drafted in the second round out of San Diego State.
43DT Terrell McClain - $1,100,000
Another player that I don’t think fits our system.
43OLB Justin Durant - $680,000
Another player that I don’t think fits our system.
CB Josh Thomas - $363,000
He does not seem like he would of any use to us.
WR Terrance Williams - $1,825,868
Terrence Williams was drafted out of Baylor in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Cowboys. His is 6’2” and weighs 208 pounds. He is of average quickness for an NFL wide receiver and has been overshadowed by the other wide receivers on the Cowboy’s team. Who knows what a change of scenery might do for him?
QB Kellen Moore - $428,000
He was picked up as an undrafted free agent in 2012 by the Detroit Lions after playing his college ball at Boise State.
S JJ Wicox - $1,817,517
JJ Wicox is a twenty five year old safety who was picked in the third round of the 2013 draft by the Cowboys. He is 6’0” tall and weighs 217 pounds. He is currently rated as the thirty fourth best safety by PFF.
43DE Ryan Davis - $635,294
Ryan Davis is a twenty seven year old undrafted free agent out of Bethune-Cookman who is only in his third year with the NFL. He is 6’2” and weighs 260 pounds. I wonder if he is a possible candidate as a backup outside linebacker? I really don’t know anything else about him.
WR Bryce Butler - $565,000
Bryce Butler is a 6’3” 213 pound speedster who was drafted by the Raiders out of San Diego State in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. So far he has not done enough to make a name for himself either in Oakland or Dallas.