IRVING, Texas -- Last week ESPN Insider Field Yates offered up a view at how the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens have some in-house replacements for their top free agents.
On a local view, how would the Dallas Cowboys replace some of their free agents should they sign elsewhere?
One player the Cowboys won’t have to worry about replacing is Dez Bryant once they place the franchise tag on the All-Pro wide receiver today.
But they have several other free agents they could need to find fill-ins for.
DeMarco Murray: The only current choices would be Joseph Randle or Ryan Williams. Randle's off-field issues hardly guarantee him a roster spot. Williams spent the year on the practice squad. Randle had just 51 carries in 2014 but he had 343 yards and three touchdowns. If the Cowboys can’t keep Murray, they must find another running back either in the draft or in free agency to replace the NFL’s reigning rushing champ.
Rolando McClain: He is facing a four-game fine for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, according to sources, so the market could be slow for him with teams knowing he is one more violation away from being suspended for four games. But the Cowboys not only have a replacement for McClain, they have a better player in Sean Lee. He missed last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament but will be ready for the offseason program. The Cowboys might hope to pair McClain and Lee at linebacker, but they at least have Lee ready.
Justin Durant/Bruce Carter: The chances of Durant returning are better than Carter, but if they lose both, then Anthony Hitchens would be the replacement at weak-side or strong-side linebacker. Hitchens is more of a weak-side linebacker. The coaches credited him with 100 tackles to go with three tackles for loss, two quarterback pressures, one interception and four pass deflections. Kyle Wilber could be a strong-side candidate.
George Selvie: He started 29 of the last 32 games at left defensive end, picking up 10 sacks and doing more than the Cowboys ever could have imagined when he signed during training camp in 2013. But the Cowboys can move Jeremy Mincey, who played right defensive end in 2014 and led the team with six sacks, to left defensive end and have DeMarcus Lawrence start on the right side.
Nick Hayden: He is a replaceable part but he is more valuable than people think. The Cowboys have Josh Brent under contract for another year and can hope a full offseason of work can help get him in better condition. Terrell McClain would be another option, but he might be better suited to play the three technique than nose tackle.
Doug Free/Jermey Parnell: The Cowboys can’t afford to lose both of them because there is no ready-made replacement on the roster. Parnell is expected to garner a lot of attention on the open market. Free is coming off surgery that could limit his services. If the Cowboys lose both, then they would be looking at Darrion Weems or Donald Hawkins as on-the-roster possibilities, which could prompt them to take a fourth offensive lineman in the first round in the last five years.