With the news that the Dallas Cowboys released left tackle Flozell Adams(notes) and safety Ken Hamlin(notes) on Friday, the team's draft and other future plans may have come more into focus. Adams, who was drafted in the second round out of Michigan State in 1998, has multiple Pro Bowl berths in his past, but as ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth is fond of saying, "Adams retired three years ago and didn't tell anybody." That's a little harsh, but there's no doubt that his performance has been less than stellar of late. Adams was going to get a $2.5 million roster bonus in June, which is why most people predicted his departure.
Hamlin signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys in 2007 after four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. He made the Pro Bowl in that first year and was rewarded with a six-year, $39 million deal. Hamlin had been losing range of late, and he was never the most disciplined player -- he was always prone to falling for pump fakes and misdirection, even at his best.
The idea in the short term is for swing tackle Doug Free(notes) to take Adams' spot, but there's a reason Free is a swing tackle. And if you want that reason, go back and look at what the Minnesota Vikings' pass rush did to Tony Romo(notes) in their 34-3 divisional playoff debaclization of the 'Boys. To replace Hamlin, Dallas has options in Mike Hamlin (no relation) and Alan Ball(notes), but there may be a desire to upgrade a defense that ranked in the middle of the pack, according to Football Outsiders' defensive metrics.
Interestingly enough, the last two Shutdown Corner mock drafts had Dallas taking one or another player to fill the holes created by these moves with the 27th overall pick. Last Wednesday, we had them taking Maryland's Bruce Campbell, a big, athletic guy whose game tape doesn't quite measure up to his work in various drills. A week before that, we projected them taking USC safety Taylor Mays, another workout wonder who will have certain transition issues at the NFL level, but whose pure athleticism is undeniable.
The Cowboys have been surprisingly quiet in free agency this season, and two of their most important positions are now basically open. Which will they fill in the draft, or will they stick with the "best player available" theory no matter what? It certainly makes things more interesting down Valley Ranch way ...