With the prospect of an uncapped year looming, 2010 figures to be a much different free agency period than in past years. Most of the premier free-agents-to-be are likely to end up as restricted free agents still under their team's control. The opening of free agency is right around the corner, March 5, and it appears that the most important aspect of each team's free agency strategy will be how they choose to tender their own restricted free agents.
With that in mind, it's time to take a look at the situations facing each of the Eagles' NFC East foes, starting with the Dallas Cowboys.
Most important free agent: WR Miles Austin (RFA) - Austin broke out in a big way in 2009, emerging as the big-play No. 1 receiver that Jerry Jones thought he was getting in Roy Williams. Austin made the Pro Bowl in his first season as a starter and ended the season with 81 receptions for 1,320 yards. Rest assured that Austin won't be going anywhere as the Cowboys will do whatever it takes to keep him in Dallas. However, the handling of Austin this off-season is delicate because of the price tag of his Williams, the mercurial receiver for whom the Cowboys surrendered a first-round pick. If the Cowboys end up tendering Austin at the highest level, a first- and third-round pick, Austin will receive just over $3 million in 2010 - less than a third of Williams' $10 million plus price tag. So the Cowboys will have to decide between keeping their young star receiver happy by giving him a long-term contract and saving money by retaining him for a cheaper price tag.
Other Notable Free Agents - The Cowboys have 12 restricted free agents, including Austin, and only one unrestricted free agent, assuming that a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached in time. Of those 13 players, three were starters in 2009. In addition to Austin, safety Gerald Sensabaugh and defensive end Marcus Spears are both restricted free agents and all indications are that Dallas will make every effort to bring both back.
The Rest - G Montrae Holland (UFA), WR Sam Hurd (RFA), S Pat Watkins (RFA), CB Cletis Gordon (RFA), DE Jason Hunter (DE), OT Pat McQuistan (RFA), OC Duke Preston (RFA), OG Cory Proctor (RFA), K Shaun Suisham (RFA).
Targets Elsewhere? - The Cowboys have said that they will not be major players in free agency in terms of signing players on the open market. Dallas is well-served both in terms of youth and talent across their roster, with the exception of an aging offensive line. Expect them to address the line in the draft.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:30 a.m., February 20