Free Agent Help: Safeties

The Dallas Cowboys' struggles at free safety have been well-documented over the course of the last three seasons. Are there any free agents currently available that could be there for the taking this offseason? TheRanchReport.com takes a closer look at that question in our first in a series of Free Agent Help articles...

Entering the 2007 season, the Dallas Cowboys still have one of the most talented defensive units in the league.

However, just like each of the last three years, problems remain at free safety.

Sure, the Cowboys tried to address the area in the draft last season by selecting Florida State's Patrick Watkins in the fifth round and picking up former Texans safety Marcus Coleman. Unfortunately neither player proved to be permanent solution to the problem.

Coleman was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in November and released and Watkins spent half the season on the practice squad.

While Watkins does hold promise for the future, the Cowboys would be best served by signing a safety with NFL experience.

Yes Keith Davis remains in the mix along with Watkins and Tony Parrish, but Dallas needs a free safety with better coverage skills to compliment the play of strong safety Roy Williams who likes to play closer to the line of scrimmage.

Is a player with those kinds of skills available this year in free agency?

Looking at the list below and considering the Cowboys should end up with over $20 million in cap room- the answer is a resounding, "yes."

Free safety Patrick Watkins recorded 49 total tackles and three interceptions during his rookie season with the Cowboys.
In fact, there are a number of talented safeties scheduled for free agency on March 2:

Mike Doss, Indianapolis Colts (could opt out) – Doss's 2006 season was cut short with 10 games to go, but that hasn't stopped him from accumulating 254 tackles and seven interceptions in 3-1/2 seasons of play. If he isn't re-signed by March 2, this will be his first trip to unrestricted free agency, and the Colts might be in the worst cap shape with the most left to re-sign. Doss is likely to be a victim of their circumstances. Probably more of a strong safety than free safety candidate.

Deon Grant, Jacksonville Jaguars – After playing in every game the last six years and amassing 335 tackles and 18 interceptions, Grant could be one the players who benefits from the abundance of room many teams have under the salary cap. He appears set to test the free-agent waters and would be a solid addition for the Cowboys at free safety.

Ken Hamlin, Seattle Seahawks – Hamlin might be the best of the safety bunch if he makes it to free agency. He's been a full-time starter for the Seahawks the last four years and produced 237 tackles and eight interceptions. Is also a true free safety with excellent coverage skills.

Michael Lewis, Philadelphia Eagles – Lewis is another strong candidate for a big contract should he hit free agency. He's been a starter for the Eagles, and in five seasons has 318 tackles and nine interceptions.

Lance Schulters, Atlanta Falcons – After a few years of bouncing from the Titans, Dolphins and Falcons and battling injuries, Schulters is part of the free-agent market once again. He had 77 tackles for the Dolphins in 2005, but in 2004 and 2006 missed significant playing time due to injuries.

Shaun Williams, Carolina Panthers – The former Giants starter has been missing time each of the last four seasons, and those foot and hamstring injury concerns could keep his asking price in check. He has 495 tackles and 15 interceptions in nine years in the league.

Gibril Wilson, New York Giants (restricted) – Wilson has worked through a number of injuries in his three-year career and performed admirably, garnering 268 tackles and seven interceptions. Those would appear to be solid numbers if another team is willing to depart with a first-day draft pick, the likely tender the Giants will place on Wilson.

OTHER FREE-AGENT SAFETIES
Mike Adams, San Francisco 49ers (restricted)
Jordan Babineaux, Seattle Seahawks (restricted)
Yeremiah Bells, Miami Dolphins (restricted)
Jay Bellamy, New Orleans Saints
Colin Branch, Carolina Panthers
Jack Brewer, Arizona Cardinals
Dwaine Carpenter, St. Louis Rams (restricted)
Tyrone Carter, Pittsburgh Steelers
Oliver Celestin, Seattle Seahawks (restricted)
Glenn Earl, Houston Texans (restricted)
Vernon Fox, Washington Redskins
Derrick Gibson, Oakland Raiders
Robert Griffith, Arizona Cardinals
Terrence Holt, Detroit Lions
John Howell, Seattle Seahawks
Todd Johnson, Chicago Bears
Kevin Kaesviharn, Cincinnati Bengals
Terrence Kiel, San Diego Chargers (could opt out)
Keith Lewis, San Francisco 49ers (restricted)
Mike Logan, Pittsburgh Steelers
Andre Lott, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jon McGraw, Detroit Lions
Quintoin Mikell, Philadelphia Eagles
Manik Milligan, Arizona Cardinals
Anthony Mitchell, Cincinnati Bengals
Donnie Nickey, Tennessee Titans
Tony Parrish, San Francisco 49ers
Mark Roman, San Francisco 49ers
Brain Russell, Cleveland Browns
Gerome Sapp, Baltimore Ravens
Bryan Scott, New Orleans Saints (could opt out)
Guss Scott, Houston Texans
Michael Stone, Houston Texans
Omar Stoutmire, New Orleans Saints
Travares Tillman, Miami Dolphins
Troy Vincent, Washington Redskins
Chad Williams, San Francisco 49ers
Tank Williams, Minnesota Vikings
Coy Wire, Buffalo Bills
Cameron Worrell, Chicago Bears
Chris Young, Denver Broncos (restricted)

* Special thanks to Tim Yotter of VikingUpdate.com for his contributions to this report.

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