Safety is considered a huge need position for the Dallas Cowboys, and to that end the team has scheduled a private workout for Wednesday with Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro.
Vaccaro announced the news via his personal Twitter account on Monday: “Workout for the cowboys Wednesday.. Uh ohh”.
Vaccaro is rated as the best safety in the draft and may or may not be available when the Cowboys pick 18th in the first round.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones didn’t deny the possibility of adding a safety in free agency and/or the draft, but he also said it’s likely the two starters are on the team now.
“We may get some insurance there We’ve got some players to draft and college free agents to get, but we do think our two young guys could start for us,” Jones said Monday from the NFL owners meetings.
The “two young guys” are, of course, fourth-year veteran Barry Church and 2012 fourth-round pick Matt Johnson. But combined, they appeared in only three games last year — and that was all Church. Johnson spent the year sidelined by hamstring problems, and Church suffered an Achilles tear in Week 3.
Jones said the Cowboys do want to cover themselves with a veteran, if possible.
“That’s why we’re going to have to have insurance at the end of the day,” Jones said. “Obviously we think a lot about Church, but he’s coming off injury. It’s not perfect, but other teams have to hang out places, too, with their cap situations. That’s where we are with it.
“At some point, it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up with a veteran safety, if not one in the draft as well somewhere. That doesn’t mean we take one out of need. But if we see one at the right place, right time, and he fits well where it is, you’ve got to look at it.”
Hall of Fame game
The Cowboys are on the short list of teams being considered for the annual Hall of Fame Game to open the preseason, per a high-ranking source.
The Cowboys last played in the Hall of Fame Game in 2010 when NFL rushing king Emmitt Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It’s no coincidence that legendary Cowboys guard Larry Allen is being inducted this year. Owner Jerry Jones will present Allen. Jones was also Smith’s presenter in 2010.
A final decision will be made at the NFL owners meetings this week.
The game is set for Aug. 4.
Getting named to the Hall of Fame Game would bump the Cowboys’ number of preseason games from four to five. It would mean they would start training camp a week earlier and would give them more time to adjust to the philosophy change on defense, where they are moving from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3 under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.
Cowboys sign Sims
The Cowboys got some insurance at strong side linebacker when they signed veteran Ernie Sims to a one-year deal for the league minimum, vice president Stephen Jones said.
The Cowboys are hoping Kyle Wilber will develop into the starter there, but they have Alex Albright and Sims as veteran options now, Jones said.
Wilber, a fourth-round pick in 2012, struggled as a rookie with injuries and the transition to the NFL. He played in 10 games and recorded only five tackles.
Sims, a seven-year veteran, joined the Cowboys two months into the season last year because of injuries. He ended up starting six games and recording 44 tackles.
“I think it’s time for Kyle Wilber to step up,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of things we liked about him last year, and we’re hoping that he can step up and take that challenge. Also, we’ve got Albright that’ll try that spot out, and then we’ve got Ernie now. We think we’re pretty good.”
No word on Free
Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said no decision has been made on right tackle Doug Free and his $7 million salary for next season.
A struggling Free was forced to share the position at the end of last season with Jermey Parnell. Although Free improved after being put in a competitive situation, $7 million is a lot to pay for a part-time or backup player. The Cowboys also liked the way the younger and cheaper Parnell responded to the added playing time.
Jones said Free could still be a June 1 salary cut, but the Cowboys will have a better idea of what they will do at the position after the draft.
“No decision has been made,” Jones said. “It’s not guaranteed. There are a lot of moving parts.”