Coming Back For Round 2?

Is Cleveland Browns safety Abram Elam a legitimate option to return to Dallas this season? If not him, who? takes a look at the possibilities this detailed report.

With the lockout over, a timeline is starting to take shape about when teams can begin to sign their own free agents, when players must be cut in order to get teams under the salary cap, when free agents (both undrafted collegians and veterans), when trades can be made, etc.

Because of the labor strife that has wrecked the league's summer schedule, there is a widespread belief that veteran free agents will be valued at a much higher premium than the first-year players who slid through the draft unchosen. All NFL teams have players who weren't selected in the draft, only to blossom once they got to the NFL, but because teams had to cancel their mini-camps and OTAs this summer, undrafted rookies are viewed as being at a decided disadvantage. Because of their shortened time training with their new teams and learning their new offensive and defensive systems, many players who have the ability to play at the professional level will begin their careers on an NFL practice squad, or might find themselves playing in an alternative league.

Most teams are believed to have spent far more time evaluating veteran free agents this year, and has learned that one player likely to be on the Dallas Cowboys' wish list is one of their former players: safety Abram Elam.

The 29-year-old Elam started his career in 2006 with the Cowboys, playing in Dallas for a year after the Cowboys picked him up off of waivers from the Miami Dolphins, who had signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State. After a year in Dallas, he signed with the New York Jets, where he played for a couple of seasons before being shipped to the Cleveland Browns in 2009.

The 6-foot, 209-pound Elam has been a productive player for five seasons, averaging 61 tackles per season.

What is more important to the idea that he might head back to Dallas is that his two best seasons were his last two, with the Browns, where he posted a career-best 74 tackles in 2009 and 65 (and a pair of interceptions) last year. Of notable importance: the architect of the Cleveland defense in which Elam thrived the last two years was new Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Should he return to Dallas, Elam would have a leg up on his new teammates, as he knows Ryan, his system and the terminology. There would be no learning curve for him in regard to the defensive system, only to get reacquainted with his former (and new) teammates.

A possible Elam-to-Dallas move has been the subject of speculation for some time, but it sounds as if it is a very real possibility. Elam is far from the only safety rumored to be on the Cowboys' radar — names like former Texas Longhorn-turned-Oakland Raider Michael Huff, Dawan Landry (Baltimore Ravens), Eric Weddle (San Diego Chargers) and Quintin Mickell (Philadelphia Eagles) all have been rumored as candidates to join the Cowboys as they seek a replacement at free safety for Alan Ball and perhaps strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh, if he leaves via free agency, but it is widely believed that Elam not only is as good an option (considering he has thrived in Ryan's system) as those players, but also would be a less expensive option.

He'll have other options, including reports that the Browns would like to keep him, but a return to Dallas seems like a very good fit.

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