Jerry Jones pledged to make aggressive changes this past offseason. He stuck by his word when he released Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin. But aside from those moves, the Cowboys have been non-players this offseason. To be fair, Dallas didn’t have many – if any – holes to plug, and the uncapped year put stiff limitations on what the final eight playoffs teams from ’09 could do in free agency.
But now Jones has a golden opportunity to fill the vacancy at free safety left after Hamlin’s release. And sitting on the market is interception machine O.J. Atogwe. The former Ram is not a superstar (or even a general star, for that matter) but he’s a smart, rangy player who can stabilize a defensive backfield’s centerfield coverage. Atogwe is reportedly asking for $7 million annually, which is too high but roughly what he made as the Rams’ franchise player last season ($6.3 million, to be exact).
Currently, Dallas has athletic but untested Alan Ball slated to replace Hamlin. Last year’s fifth-round pick, Mike Hamlin (no relation), is the No. 2. Mike Hamlin did not play in ’09. Ball is intriguing, but his best work has come as a nickel or dime back, where he’s able to use more of his cornerback-quality skills lining up near the numbers. By making Ball the starter, Dallas is banking on inexperience and compromising their versatile depth.
Still, Jones has insisted his team isn’t interested in making any changes at safety. Do the Cowboys need Atogwe? Not really. But could they use him. You bet.
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