I’ve already drawn the ire of Dallas Cowboys fans this year when I proclaimed that they could be 2017’s Carolina Panthers. The Cowboys have significant cap problems and will be losing some starters to free agency. They will not have enough money to replace them with big name free agents. Releasing Tony Romo with a June 1 designation gets them below the cap, but they have a ton of free agents who will need to be replaced with low-cost options and they do not have a high draft pick this year.
Let’s take a look at who those players are and if the Seattle Seahawks may be interested in them.
Morris Claiborne, CB
Brandon Carr, CB
Carr got paid way too much for a long time but now that his contract’s about to be voided, maybe he would be a veteran option that interests the Seahawks. I don’t know what his arm length is, only that it’s often cited as a strength. However, I do know Claiborne’s arm length and he could be interesting.
A former sixth overall pick out of LSU, Claiborne may have been the type of cornerback that Pete Carroll could have targeted in 2012 if he was still on the board when Seattle was drafting. (They were at 12, traded down, took Bruce Irvin.) He is only 5’11, 188 lbs, but he has 33 1/4” arms, which is exactly the type of length that Carroll covets. However, he struggled mightily in Dallas and has yet to play a full season. Maybe that means he only comes at the cost of a one-year deal, and the prospect for playing with the Legion of Boom could entice Claiborne to give the Seahawks a chance. I asked Rob Staton what he thought of Claiborne and he was not too keen on adding a veteran corner who has struggled for much of his career when there is a very deep class of cornerbacks in the draft.
But I say that it comes down to the market. Former great prospects often get overpaid by desperate teams. Take a look at Tyson Jackson, for example. The Kansas City Chiefs took him third overall, he was nothing special, the Atlanta Falcons gave him a five-year, $25 million deal. Claiborne had some good moments this year, which is enough for me to suspect he could get at least as much as Buster Skrine, who signed a four-year, $25 million deal in 2015. I don’t think Seattle should, or would, do that for Claiborne. The Cleveland Browns might though.
Ronald Leary. G
Leary will be all the talk for many Seahawks fans because he appears to be the best guard on the market and there’s no way Dallas is going to be able to retain him. However, I’d be leery of any team signing him to a big-time contract since he had the pleasure of playing between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. How would he do between Justin Britt and George Fant? Even an improving Britt is nowhere in the class of Frederick. Even if Leary turns out to be pretty good, just move on Seattle fans, it’s not happening. He’s going to get a contract in the area of what Mike Iupati got from the Arizona Cardinals, which is $8 million per year and almost $16 million guaranteed. Pete Carroll has already said the team won’t be doing stuff like that to improve the line.
Terrell McClain, DT
The Seahawks have been linked to McClain since January and it’s easy to see why. McClain had a career-year with the Cowboys and Seattle will have an opening if Tony McDaniel leaves via free agency, which I almost expect at this point. McClain would be a younger, albeit a little more expensive, version of that. It would also lessen their need of using a pick on a defensive tackle in a draft that is loaded at other positions of need. DT and OL seems like what John Schneider may prefer to target in free agency.
Terrance Williams, WR
His market should be interesting. I think he’s a pretty talented wideout and this will be his opportunity to maybe be a team’s number one or two option. The Seahawks wouldn’t be looking for a free agent receiver of this caliber, instead they’ll focus on depth guys.
Justin Durant, LB
Is Seattle getting a Durant back? No. The 32-year-old vet played for Dan Quinn in 2015 but isn’t a fit on the Seahawks roster unless some changes are made. They’ll resign Mike Morgan, bring back the young guys, and add through the draft.
Barry Church, S
Seattle needs safety depth, not safety starters. Church may take a paycut to stay in Dallas, the only team he’s ever known. He may also be the Cowboys top free agent priority as he was very important to the defense this season and in the previous three.
Jon Cooper, G
Cooper is definitely an interesting and more feasible option than Leary. The seventh overall pick in 2013 has been setback by injuries but also just poor play, as he’s bounced from the Cardinals to the New England Patriots to the Browns and then finally the Cowboys ... and that was all just within the last year. His 33” arms and awful career don’t mean he’s the solution for the Seahawks offensive line, but he’d cost nothing and would be more worth giving a shot than some of the veterans they’ve signed in recent years.
Others: QB Mark Sanchez, LB Andrew Gachkar, CB Josh Thomas, LB Rolando McClain, QB Kellen Moore, RB Lance Dunbar, DL Jack Crawford, S JJ Wilcox, WR Brice Butler, DL Ryan Davis, TE Gavin Escobar, RB Darren McFadden
Potential Cap Casualties/Trades
Tony Romo, QB
The only thing that matters here as it pertains to the Seahawks is if Romo lands with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s an option, certainly.
Cedric Thornton, DL
With a post-June 1 designation, the Cowboys would save $3 million by releasing Thornton, a player they signed to a $17 million contract last year. He didn’t do much in 2016 and could be someone who gets released to give Dallas salary cap relief. He might be a body for the defensive line as a five-tech, but would be low priority.
Alfred Morris, RB
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