IRVING, Texas -- If a team wants to sign restricted free agent Ronald Leary, then they would have to give up a second-round pick to do so unless both sides work out a trade before submitting an offer sheet.
The Cowboys put the second-round tender on Leary, which would pay him $2.553 million in 2016, while safety Jeff Heath was tendered at $1.67 million.
Because Leary was an undrafted free agent in 2012, the Cowboys had to put the second-round tender on him to guarantee at least some form of compensation if a team wanted to sign him. Heath was also undrafted, but he will not generate the interest Leary could.
Leary started 31 of 32 games in 2013 and ’14 before losing his job in 2015 to La'el Collins, more because of the Cowboys’ commitment to Collins than poor play. Leary started four games in 2015, including the season finale when an injury kept Collins from playing.
The Cowboys guaranteed Leary more than $200,000 as an undrafted free agent in 2012 after he was not picked because teams worried about a knee condition that has not bothered him in his first four seasons. He helped DeMarco Murray rush for a league high 1,845 yards in 2014 and back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in 2013 and ’14.
It is possible the Cowboys could sign Heath to a multi-year deal to keep his cap commitment low in 2016. He is a core special-teamer, tying for the team lead in tackles with nine and forcing a fumble.