Free Agency. A period of the NFL where teams can go out and find the missing piece or add a piece to their team to get them closer to their goal of winning a Championship. This period is very exciting. Not only are you trying to add talent, you are also trying to keep the talent you have. Players whom contract is up are free to sign with any team that they want.
Free agent markets can vary depending on what position a player plays, last year’s production of said player, and what another team is willing to offer. Teams have to choose how they approach this time period. Do they cast a wide net, trying to lure anyone interested to join their team or are they more selective? Will they be passive, waiting to see who is interested in them or aggressive, actively pursuing players that they think would fit their team?
The Cowboys have been playing it passive so far, mainly because of their salary cap situation. They only have a limited amount of money they can spend that would not have them going over the hard set salary cap of $143 million dollars applied to all NFL teams. They managed to franchise Dez Bryant (still needing a long-term deal done), resigned Cole Beasley and Doug Free and tendered Lance Dunbar and Chris Jones.
Heading into this league year, the Cowboys had three Linebackers that hit Free Agency: Justin Durant, Bruce Carter and Rolando McClain. Thoughts were that the Cowboys would at the very least resign two of these players. This didn’t happen. Justin Durant signed with the Falcons and Bruce Carter signed with the Buccaneers. So not only do we still need to resign Rolando McClain, but a player I believe we need to sign is Brandon Spikes, free agent Linebacker who played for the Buffalo Bills as well. He will not give you a ton of play making ability like Carter provided in pass coverage, but he is stellar at stopping the run.
Spikes has been a starting Linebacker in this league. He is a solid tackler and has plenty of experience. He is also a Champion. Spikes has been where we are trying to go. His leadership and insight would be invaluable.
Keith Rivers is a good signing, but we now need depth. Take in to account that Lee, (out the entire year) Carter, Durant and McClain all battled injuries last year.
Hitchens proved to be a solid replacement who can play all three LB spots. This was a good thing. Not sure if we have the luxury of selecting another LB in the draft this year. McClain was amazing for us last year. Not only did he fill the void of losing Team Captain Sean Lee, but he brought an attitude and mean streak that spread throughout the entire defense and the team. Teams knew that even though we didn’t have All-World talent on defense, we were not going to back down. We are going out and meeting you at the line of scrimmage. And with bad intentions.
The free agency pool for Linebackers is pretty slim. I trust the Cowboys scouting department will be ready with a name if need be. They have looked at film and done research on who will fit this scheme and can add to what we have. But if you ask me, Spikes might be our best option and at 27 he still has plenty left in tank.