Cowboys 2014 Free Agency Needs
Inconsistency, injuries may force the Dallas Cowboys to man up at linebacker
By Matthew Postins
RattleandHumSports.com is breaking down the free agent needs at every position group for the 2014 Dallas Cowboys. Today it’s the linebackers.
Linebackers: Sean Lee (starter), Justin Durant (starter – ended season on IR), Bruce Carter (starter), DeVonte Holloman (backup), Cameron Lawrence (backup), Orie Lemon (backup), Ernie Sims (backup), Martez Wilson (backup), Edgar Jones (backup)
Other notable players: none.
Cowboys linebackers entering free agency: Sims, Jones.
Free agency need?: 4 (out of 10, 10 being most pressing).
Why? It does not appear as if middle linebacker Sean Lee will make it through a full NFL season, if the past is any indication. That, plus the season-ending injury to Justin Durant, means the Cowboys need to start thinking about investing in a versatile linebacker. A draft selection would help the Cowboys control cost in that department, but they could go after a free agent linebacker as well. Bruce Carter did not have a good season on the weak side, but the Cowboys appear willing to give him one more season to figure things out. A draft selection at the position could serve as competition.
Possible targets: Bringing Ernie Sims back is certainly an option for Dallas. He knows the system, knows the staff and can play any of the three positions on the field. But even he’s beginning to show his age, so if the Cowboys believe they can find a versatile linebacker that could be an upgrade they may pursue that player instead. One player that will hit the market and is worth looking at is Denver’s Paris Lenon, who has the speed to flourish in a system like the one the Cowboys intend to run, even at age 36. A former Cowboy, Dan Connor, should be available, as will Pat Angerer, Nick Barnett and Will Witherspoon.
Looking ahead: Lee is a lock to start at middle linebacker. The only real question is who will back him up. The outside position should have competition. Durant will have to fend off DeVonte Holloman, who showed some real flashes late last season. Carter will not go through camp uncontested, it’s just unclear who that competition will be. The likely scenario has the Cowboys bringing Sims back and drafting someone to push Carter.
Next up: Defensive backs.