Marcus Spears, Steven Bowen and Jason Hatcher are all becoming free agents this year. To lose them all would be a heck of a blow to a very stout D-line. Marcus Dixon , a two year practice squad vet who recently signed a reserve/futures contract, is the only valid backup. To understand what could happen with the free agents this year, you must first look at the compensation and salaries to be earned.
Four years of experience
Original pick compensation: $1.176 million
Second round tender: $1.759 million
First round tender: $2.521 million
First and third tender: $3.168 million
Five years of NFL experience
Original pick compensation: $1.226 million
Second round tender: $1.809 million
First round tender: $2.621 million
First and third round tender: $3.268 million
I believe it would be naive to think the Cowboys would simply ignore Spears and let him test the waters. The five year experience original pick compensation tender makes the most sense, since it would ensure the Cowboys a first round pick should someone sign him away and keep his salary relatively low. I know it’s a no-cap year, but Jerry most likely will be spending a little extra cash on eliminating a certain safety or o-lineman’s (or two) contract(s). I’m not naming names. You figure it out.
As for Hatcher and Bowen, I think that Bowen will receive a contract. Original pick compensation goes out the window for Bowen since he was a rookie free agent acquisition. Since Hatcher was a third round pick in ’06, it would make sense to stick the four year original draft pick compensation tender on him and let him walk for a third round pick from a team that needs 3-4 Defensive End help. Believe me, there are quite a few. A second round tender might be pushing it and Dallas might end up stuck with a higher paying contract than Spears. (Not Smart)
Letting Hatcher walk for a third round pick would give Dallas more ammo in the draft and also would allow Dixon to take his next step in the pros. I doubt he would last another year on the practice squad. It’s do or die time for him.
Olshansky remains under a very friendly contract and should remain in place at least for the next couple of years. I think we would all agree he did very well this year replacing Canty.