One of the first things that pops into my head when I think about offseason moves the Cowboys need to make is always the safety position. The Cowboys were depleted by injuries at the safety position and the situation kept getting worse the longer the season went on. Roy Williams and Pat Watkins were both lost for the season and Keith Davis was playing injured for the last several weeks. Now that I have looked a little more closely I realize that the Cowboys have a lot of options at safety because Anthony Henry is on the team.
There are several paths the Cowboys can choose to take at the safety position. Ken Hamlin is set as a starter at one safety spot but the picture becomes cloudy when you look at the second safety spot. We have players on the team who can fill the role. The current candidates are Anthony Henry, Pat Watkins and Roy Williams. The versatility of Anthony Henry allows for a lot of choices when you look at the second starter.
The Cowboys could move Anthony Henry to free safety and then switch Ken Hamlin to strong safety. After the tackling display by Hamlin in the Ravens game I am not entirely sure that he is capable of playing the strong safety position but the personnel experts all seem to believe that Hamlin is better suited to play closer to the line of scrimmage. He definitely is not making the plays on deep passes and passes over the middle you would hope to see from your free safety. Anthony Henry could finally be the guy who makes a play on all of the 15 yard "in" routes that have been automatic against the defense for the last 2 seasons. Henry has shown over the last few years that he can and will make a play on passes in his direction.
What is even more exciting about this option is continuing the practice that started last season of moving Henry to cover the opponent's tight end in passing situations and then bring in possibly Pat Watkins or Roy Williams to play free safety. I'm not sure Roy Williams is suited for that chore, so finding a place for him in the defensive scheme seems difficult in this scenario. There is also the chance that we bring in a safety via the draft to fill the free safety role in these passing situations if the coaches and GM don't believe Watkins or Williams can fill the role.
The other big positive in this scenario is that it frees up a starting spot for Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick to battle for in training camp. The Cowboys seems to have hit on both cornerbacks that were drafted last season, so we need to get them on the field. It would be great for both players to ratchet up the intensity in camp with a starting position at stake.
Think about this scenario against a 3 wideout set. Mike Jenkins and Terrance Newman at the corners, Orlando Scandrick on the slot receiver, and Anthony Henry on the tight end. This was the package that the Cowboys tried to implement last season, but injuries kept getting in the way. It seems like an awfully tough matchup for any opposing offense, especially if Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick improve through their offseason work.
Anyone watching a Cowboys game can see that Anthony Henry is just not fast enough to stick with a receiver with even average speed anymore, so moving him to free safety seems like an excellent way to extend his career and get the most out of the money he will be paid this upcoming season. His charge against the salary cap will be about $5.6 million, so he needs to be on the field to justify his pay. Having the option to move Henry to safety gives the Cowboys leverage in any renegotiation with Roy Williams and can help prevent them from reaching for a player in the draft at the safety position. We will still need to find depth at safety and/or cornerback in the draft but at least we know that we have several options to work with.