I know the popular sentiment is that the Dallas Cowboys havn’t been good at finding top notch safeties ever since the early years of Roy Williams and the final years of Darren Woodson, but that premise is not necessarily true. Sure the team has been searching for help at safety in what seems like forever but it’s not because they haven’t made good choices in personnel.
A few years ago the Cowboys were in dire need of safety help and one of the best safeties in the game was a player by the name of O.J. Atogwe. He hit the free agent market after a couple of really good years with the St. Louis Rams. He wasn’t the premiere safety name in the game but he was a turnover machine picking off 10 passes, causing 11 fumbles and recovering five fumbles in his previous three years with the Rams, so it’s safe to say he was a play maker.
The Cowboys name was always brought up when people talk about potential suitors for Atogwe but the team never showed much interest. In 2011 he signed with the Washington Redskins in free agency and played just one season with the ‘Skins after signing a 5-year deal worth more than $26 million. In fact the Cowboys had another shot with Atogwe after being released by the Redskins and again they decline to pursue.
Dallas has also been linked to other so called big named safeties like Quintin Mikell in free agency, or Nate Allen via the draft, but the Cowboys never showed much interest in those players either. Mikell was just released by the Rams and Allen has been a bust with the Philadelphia Eagles so the Cowboys have made the choices with them as well.
So it stands to reason that despite how it seems because of the state of the position now, the Cowboys have made very smart choices when it comes to the safety position. The Cowboys picked up Gerald Sensabaugh off of the safety pile when nobody wanted him and even though they released him, he played some good football for the Cowboys. He wasn’t a big-time difference maker for the team but he was far from a bad player, so Dallas has shown good judgement signing him over other more accomplished players in free agency.
The Cowboys also made smart decisions in picking up players Barry Church and Danny McCray when nobody else wanted them, so the team has done a decent job at evaluating the position. The Cowboys loved Earl Thomas and they were right about him but they just didn’t have the right spot to draft him in 2010, and they like Matt Johnson’s potential as well. I know it’s hard to believe in him right now since we haven’t seen him on the field yet but let’s give it time to see if it works out.
Sure they’ve made mistakes, signing Ken Hamlin to a long-term deal was one of them, but no one is perfect and the Cowboys have recovered nicely from Hamlin. Overall Dallas has done a good job evaluating the talent at the safety position and they haven’t seen the value in any of the big names in free agency or the draft over the past few years.
That should change this off-season because they certainly have a need for a safety and should sign someone, but let’s keep their recent decision in mind as the Cowboys move forward at the safety position. There are players out there for the Cowboys to sign and I believe they should kick the tires of Adrian Wilson but if the team doesn’t see the potential, then we have to trust in the team.
After all, their judgement has pretty good at the position in the past few years, let’s see how they do this year.
you can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi