Free-agency series: Linebackers

Eighth in a 10-part series breaking down the Cowboys' free-agency needs, position by position:


Who’s on the roster: Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Caleb McSurdy, Dan Connor, Kyle Wilber, Alex Albright, Orie Lemon

Analysis: In Lee and Carter, the Cowboys appear set at the Mike (middle) and Will (weakside) linebacker spots. However, both players are coming off injuries and must prove they can stay healthy. The Sam (strong side) is in question, but Albright looks to be the best in-house candidate. Wilber didn’t play much as a rookie but has athletic ability. Connor could be a cap casualty soon and Lemon might not be tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent. McSurdy is coming off an Achilles injury but could be an OK fit as a backup. Just based on numbers, the Cowboys will need to add some players here.

NFL free agents of interest: Ernie Sims, Chase Blackburn, Keith Rivers, Will Witherspoon, Geno Hayes

Need meter: 7. When the Cowboys ran the 3-4, they generally needed bigger linebackers to withstand more direct play with the offensive linemen. With the 4-3 that changes to a degree, with speed being a top priority. But, as with every position in free agency, don’t look for the Cowboys to spend a lot of money. Not with Lee entering the final year of his deal and Carter up the year after him. Sims played well after joining the Cowboys following Lee’s toe injury. Sims is a better fit for a 4-3 and would be a solid backup. The Cowboys had mild interest in Blackburn last year, and he did some nice things for the Giants.