Today Is Deadline For Tendering Offers To Restricted Free Agents

Today is a big day for the Cowboys as they must tender offers to their 13 restricted free agents by the 11:00 pm CST deadline tonight.

You can be sure that both wide receiver Miles Austin and safety Gerald Sensabaugh will both receive high tenders from the Cowboys and that neither will be going anywhere.

Clarence E. Hill of the Star-Telegram speculates that Austin will receive the highest tender possible — a one-year salary of $3.168 million and compensation of a first- and third-round pick if he signs with another team.

Sensabaugh will likely be tagged with the first-round tender of $2.62 million. If he signs with another team, the Cowboys would get a first-round pick in return.

The other Cowboys restricted free agents include:

DT Stephen Bowen
G Cory Procter
G Duke Preston
DE Jason Hatcher
NT Junior Siavii
WR Sam Hurd
S Pat Watkins
OT Pat McQuistan
DE Marcus Spears
PK Shaun Suisham
CB Cletis Gordon

Of those eleven, I suspect that 3-4 of them may not be returning next season including Suisham and Gordon.

I was very surprised when the Cowboys decided not to place the franchise tag on Miles Austin last week which would have paid him a guaranteed one-year, $9.52 million deal that would’ve required another team to give up two first-round picks as compensation for signing him to a non-matching offer sheet.

I was a little worried that we might be exposing Miles Austin to a slight risk of employment elsewhere if another team should beat the Cowboys tender, but felt more at ease after reading this in the Dallas Morning News.

Not many teams in league history have been willing to relinquish a first- and third-round pick for a restricted free agent. Almost none, in fact. In 1998, Bill Parcells brought restricted running back Curtis Martin with him from the Patriots to the Jets. The Patriots were unwilling to match the Jets’ six-year, $36 million offer sheet and took a first- and third-rounder in return. Eighteen players received the high tender over the next 10 years. None were pried away by a rival’s offer sheet.

Good to know…

Cowboys Add Return Specialist

The Cowboys and Allen Rossum have agreed on a 1-year deal to bring the return specialist to Dallas.

From the Cowboys website:

Rossum is expected to sign a one-year, veteran-minimum contract with the Cowboys on Wednesday morning. A Dallas native who played at Skyline High School, Rossum left for Notre Dame before joining the Philadelphia Eagles as a third-round cornerback in 1998.

Philadelphia quickly learned that Rossum’s greatest talents were as a kickoff and punt returner, a role he’s filled for five franchises over the last 11 seasons. After two years with the Eagles he was traded to Green Bay, where he spent two seasons. He signed an unrestricted free-agent contract with Atlanta in 2002 and went on to play five years there before being traded to Pittsburgh for the 2007 season.

After a year in the Steel City he joined the 49ers, playing in San Francisco for all of last season and the first four games of 2009 before he was waived Monday to make room for first-round pick Michael Crabtree, who ended his holdout last week.

In 156 career games Rossum has 307 punt returns, averaging 10 yards per return with three touchdowns. He has returned 513 kickoffs at an average of 23.3 yards, with five scores.

Rossum would replace Patrick Crayton as the Cowboys’ primary punt returner. Felix Jones, Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree have served as kickoff returners so far this season. Crayton has averaged 8.0 yards on 10 punt returns this season, but mishandled one kick Sunday, leading to a Kansas City touchdown, and then appeared hesitant to field a couple of more punts later in the game.

Rossum, who has 10 career starts at cornerback as well, will replace Cletis Gordon, who was released Tuesday after signing on in an emergency cornerback role last week.

Sounds like a good deal. Lord knows we didn’t want Patrick Crayton resuming duties after the bye week.

Thanks to Nate for giving me the heads up.