Safety Plan

If the Dallas Cowboys' top offseason priority is reaching an agreement on a contract extension with wide receiver Miles Austin, then another item that should be pretty high on the team's wish list should be agreeing to a new multi-year deal with strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh.

Sensabaugh was one of the smaller blips on the free agent wire last year, but turned out to be an outstanding signing by Dallas. With the benefit of having played for Dallas secondary coach Dave Campo when Campo coached in Jacksonville, Sensabaugh immediately slipped into the starting safety spot, finished as the team's fourth-leading tackler and a solid contributor on special teams, as well.

Sensabaugh said at the end of the season that if all factors are equal, he would like to remain with the Cowboys next year. But the contract he signed in Dallas was a one-year deal, meaning he now has the chance to hit the open market. He's a smart player and a sure tackler, and will draw interest from other teams. If another team throws a huge offer his way, where does that leave the Cowboys?

They could promote Patrick Watkins, but they've had that chance before, and didn't do it. Besides, he also is a free agent this winter.

If Sensabaugh leaves, Dallas will have to sign another safety to take over next to Ken Hamlin, and there is another available who has skills very similar to Sensabaugh's: Baltimore's Dawan Landry. With five full seasons behind him, Sensabaugh has been in the NFL a year longer than Landry. They're also almost exactly the same size — each is listed at 6 feet tall, and at 220, Landry is 10 pounds heavier than Sensabaugh.

Landry also had 10 more tackles — 82 — and his four interceptions were three more than Sensabaugh posted.

The two should earn similar contract offers, but if Landry chooses to leave Baltimore — and there's no assurance that he will — it is believed that the front-runners for his services will be the New York Jets, where former Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is the head coach.

Ryan also is viewed as something of a Pied Piper at the moment. His team exceeded expectations in 2009, he is viewed as the same kind of defensive genius and colorful character as his father, Buddy. If Sensabaugh leaves Dallas, Landry would be a solid replacement, but the Cowboys might have to come up with an enormous offer to keep him away from New York.

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