<
>

Cowboys free-agent watch: Danny McCray a special-teamer only

The Dallas Cowboys have 16 players set to become unrestricted free agents in March. In this series, we determine why a player should or should not return in 2016 and beyond.

Danny McCray

Position: Safety

Age: 27

NFL experience: Six years

2015 salary: $585,000

2015 statistics: He played in every game last season and was credited with four special-teams tackles. He also blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown in the win against the Philadelphia Eagles. He played just five defensive snaps the entire season.

Why he will be back: Jason Garrett likes to say he values special teams a lot. McCray is a core special-teamer. It would be hard for a rookie to beat him out of a job on the coverage units and special-teams coaches want as many known commodities as possible. The cost will be relatively minor in line with the veteran minimum salary contract. In the past he has shown the ability to handle defensive work but those days don't seem to be around much anymore.

Why he will not be back: While he continues to be a solid special-teams player, he remains just that. He does not contribute defensively unless there is an emergency on game day. On a team with a lot of needs, it's difficult to carry a luxury piece. Given how well kickers and punters do their jobs these days, the veteran special-teamer might start feeling a squeeze on the roster.

Chance to return: Low. J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath will likely make around $1.7 million in 2016 based on Wilcox earning the proven-performance benefit in the collective bargaining agreement and Heath getting tendered as a restricted free agent. Both should be core special-teamers at relatively high price tags. Financially speaking, there might not be room for McCray.

The series: