Antrel Rolle and the Dallas Cowboys: Pros and Cons
There have been rumors abound lately concerning the potential addition of Antrel Rolle to the Dallas Cowboys roster. Rolle is expected to be released in the coming days and has already been linked to several teams, including Chicago, Dallas, and even staying in Arizona. We take a look at some of the positives and negatives that would come with the signing of Rolle.
1. Rolle has good ball skills and play-making ability.
Rolle, the eighth overall pick in the 2005 draft, came out of the University of Miami as a cornerback. We know he is an athletic, rangy safety, characteristics that could benefit Dallas greatly at the position. Rolle can match up favorably with tight ends, running backs, and perhaps even slot receivers. That trait is something Dallas is lacking now from their safeties.
2. He has experience in a defense similar to the Cowboys’ defense.
The Cards, like Dallas, play a lot of man coverage. Like we said, Rolle can play man-to-man against a variety of players, but he can also play centerfield in cover one, a coverage the Cowboys utilize frequently. Rolle’s experience at cornerback would also give the Cowboys a bit of versatility in how they can use him.
1. His play-making ability is not elite and he gives up a lot of big plays.
While Rolle does have better play-making ability than Ken Hamlin, his skills are by no means elite. There is a reason the Cardinals are not paying him his bonus money and letting him test free agency. A lot of fans think Rolle is the answer to all of the Cowboys’ woes on defense, but he is not Ed Reed.
Not only is he not an All-Pro type defender, but Rolle also gives up a lot of big plays. He gambles a lot, which is something that would be discouraged if he landed in Dallas. A big part of Ken Hamlin’s lack of big plays is the role the Cowboys ask him to fulfill. Hamlin has done a tremendous job of setting up the defense and not allowing many big plays.
What makes anyone sure Rolle is ready to change the way he plays? Dallas does need to force more turnovers, but not at the expense of giving up the same number of big plays.
Further, Rolle is a very poor tackler. Hamlin’s ability to bring down the ball-carrier is also sub-par, but he also does not cost nearly as much as Rolle would (which brings us to con #2).
2. The value for Rolle will not be there.
Rolle is seeking over $8 million a year. This would make him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. More than Troy Polamalu. More than Ed Reed. Rolle is an above-average safety, but nothing more. Free agency is a lot like the draft in that you are always seeking value, and making Rolle the league’s highest-paid safety does not constitute good value.
The signing of Antrel Rolle would bring with it both positives and negatives. Rolle has good play-making ability and probably would help the Cowboys force more turnovers. Unfortunately, it is likely these takeaways would come at a price. If the defense is allowing more long touchdowns, are the extra takeaways really worth it? Rolle’s abilities are not elite enough to make up for these negative plays.
The value that comes with signing Rolle would also be poor. While the top five free safeties in the league are averaging $6.25 million a year, Rolle wants over $8 million. He simply is not worth it.
A more logical goal for the Cowboys, in our opinion, would be to target their favorite safety in the draft and make sure they get him. Although Eric Berry will go too early for this to be possible,everyone else, including Texas safety Earl Thomas, is a possibility. If Thomas is the guy the ‘Boys covet and he drops into the 20’s, they should make the move.
Otherwise, there are capable safeties that will go later in the draft as well. Georgia Tech’s Morgan Burnett, USF’s Nate Allen, and Georgia’s Reshad Jones are all safeties who fit the Cowboys’ mold and could be available in the back of round two.
Drafting a free safety in round two or later would likely mean that Ken Hamlin sticks around. While this would be wildly unpopular with most fans, Hamlin is a cerebral player from whom a rookie could take a year to learn the defense. Further, we have a feeling Hamlin is set to rebound nicely in 2010.
Overall, whichever direction the team decides to go, there appear to be better options than overpaying Antrel Rolle.